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Issue 3, 2020
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Resonant energy transfer enhances solar thermal desalination

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Evaporation-based solar thermal distillation is a promising approach for purifying high-salinity water, but the liquid-vapor phase transition inherent to this process makes it intrinsically energy intensive. Here we show that the exchange of heat between the distilled and input water can fulfill a resonance condition, resulting in dramatic increases in fresh water production. Large gains (500%) in distilled water are accomplished by coupling nanophotonics-enabled solar membrane distillation with dynamic thermal recovery, achieved by controlling input flow rates as a function of incident light intensity. The resonance condition, achieved for the circulating heat flux between the distillate and feed, allows the system to behave in an entirely new way, as a desalination oscillator. The resonant oscillator concept introduced here is universal and can be applied to other systems such as thermal energy storage or solar-powered chemical reactors.

Graphical abstract: Resonant energy transfer enhances solar thermal desalination

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Article information

10 Oct 2019
10 Feb 2020
First published
12 Feb 2020

Energy Environ. Sci., 2020,13, 968-976
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Resonant energy transfer enhances solar thermal desalination

A. Alabastri, P. D. Dongare, O. Neumann, J. Metz, I. Adebiyi, P. Nordlander and N. J. Halas, Energy Environ. Sci., 2020, 13, 968
DOI: 10.1039/C9EE03256H

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