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Issue 3, 2020
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Ultrahigh-efficiency desalination via a thermally-localized multistage solar still

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Abstract

Passive vapor generation systems with interfacial solar heat localization enable high-efficiency low-cost desalination. In particular, recent progress combining interfacial solar heating and vaporization enthalpy recycling through a capillary-fed multistage architecture, known as the thermally-localized multistage solar still (TMSS), significantly improves the performance of passive solar desalination. Yet, state-of-the-art experimental demonstrations of solar-to-vapor conversion efficiency are still limited since the dominant factors and the general design principle for TMSS were not well-understood. In this work, we show optimizing the overall heat and mass transport in a multistage configuration plays a key role for further improving the performance. This understanding also increases the flexibility of material choices for the TMSS design. Using a low-cost and free-of-salt accumulation TMSS architecture, we experimentally demonstrated a record-high solar-to-vapor conversion efficiency of 385% with a production rate of 5.78 L m−2 h−1 under one-sun illumination, where more than 75% of the total production was collected through condensation. This work not only significantly improves the performance of existing passive solar desalination technologies for portable and affordable drinking water, but also provides a comprehensive physical understanding and optimization principle for TMSS systems.

Graphical abstract: Ultrahigh-efficiency desalination via a thermally-localized multistage solar still

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Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
21 Dec 2019
Accepted
15 Jan 2020
First published
15 Jan 2020

This article is Open Access

Energy Environ. Sci., 2020,13, 830-839
Article type
Communication

Ultrahigh-efficiency desalination via a thermally-localized multistage solar still

Z. Xu, L. Zhang, L. Zhao, B. Li, B. Bhatia, C. Wang, K. L. Wilke, Y. Song, O. Labban, J. H. Lienhard, R. Wang and E. N. Wang, Energy Environ. Sci., 2020, 13, 830
DOI: 10.1039/C9EE04122B

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