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Self-floating hybrid hydrogels assembled with conducting polymer hollow spheres and silica aerogel microparticles for solar steam generation

Abstract

The design and synthesis of solar steam generation materials have received considerable attention due to their capacity to produce freshwater from seawater or contaminated water by a straightforward utilisation of solar energy. The practical application of those materials, however, is restricted by their low evaporation efficiency and non-durable floating capacity on water. Herein, flexible and self-floating polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) based hybrid hydrogels for solar steam generation are designed and synthesized by assembling two types of functional particels within the network: conducting polymer hollow spheres (CPHSs) for rendering solar absorption and heat-conversion, and silica aerogel microparticles for desnity reduction and confined efficent energy converion to a small amount of surrounding water. Following a freezing process, the functionalized hybrid hydrogels with macro-sized channels are generated, contribtuing to rapid water supply. Janus surface nature with one side hydrophilic (contact angle ca. 60o) and another hydrophobic (contact angle up to 135o) of the hybrid hydrogel was found due to the formation of a gradient distribution of silica aerogel particles via controlling the gelation conditions. Consenquently , the density of the hybrid hydrogels is controlled in the range of 0.8 ~ 1.0 g·cm-3 and the thermal conductivity of the corresponding xerogels in the range of 0.030 ~ 0.035 W·m-1·K-1, depending on the content of the silica aerogels. High water production of the hybrid hydrogel at the rate of 1.83 Kg·m-2·h-1 under 1 sun illumination has been demonstrated, which makes an important step towards a cost effective solution for the scarcity of clean water.

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Publication details

The article was received on 19 Oct 2018, accepted on 06 Dec 2018 and first published on 07 Dec 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8TA10057H
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2018, Accepted Manuscript
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    Self-floating hybrid hydrogels assembled with conducting polymer hollow spheres and silica aerogel microparticles for solar steam generation

    M. Tan, J. Wang, W. Song, J. Fang and X. Zhang, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C8TA10057H

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      [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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