Climate change is constantly posing major challenges to fresh water availability. The salinity level of both land and seawater is constantly increasing, making clean water treatment more urgent and important than ever. We are investigating new materials to improve solar desalinator performance.
One such material is vertically aligned carbon nanotubes (CNTs). CNTs are open tip hollow structures with the appearance of a latticework fence. They are composed of cylindrical graphite sheets and have fantastic salt and pollutant repellency, as well as antifouling and self-cleaning features. Another material of interest is superhydrophobic (SH) surfaces. When immersed in salt water, SH surfaces can reduce salt nucleation and prevent surface corrosion by creating an air layer between surface and flow.
A surface that combines the advantages of the two materials above has the potential to make solar desalination units easier to clean and more eco-friendly to operate.