Nanotechnology to Produce ‘Solar Steam’

A new solar technology has been discovered by scientists at Rice University, using nanoparticles. The nanoparticles can directly convert solar energy to steam, entirely skipping the process of boiling water. The efficiency rate for this procedure is 24%.

This technology called ‘solar steam’, makes use of nanoparticles submerged in water to transform sunlight into heat. The process of heating in this system is so fast that the water instantly converts to steam. The submerged particles in the water are activated not only by sunlight but also by very short wavelengths that are not visible to the human eye.

The team of scientists believe that developing countries will be the first to take advantage of solar steam and use it for water purification and sanitation. An autoclave using solar steam has already been built by the undergraduates at the Rice University to sterilize medical and dental equipment.

This technology could prove phenomenal as steam is used to produce 90% of electricity, as an industrial fluid, food preparation and water purification. This technology has no need for acres of solar panels and mirrors. In fact it has a very small footprint. Solar steam can also aid in giving fractions that are richer in ethanol content rather than just simple thermal distillation.

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