MIT Scientists Build Solar Super-Heated Steam Device

The
world of technology often leaves us with revolutionary changes in the way that
we live. One such change has been our ability to use the power of the sun to
our own ends. That power, though, might just be about to become stronger than
ever: MIT Engineers have now built a new device which can soak up enough heat
from the soil to boil water. Indeed, it can even produce heated steam with a
heat in excess of 100-degrees Celsius. This comes without the need for any
expensive to use or work with equipment, making it a revolutionary step forward
in many ways.

MIT Solar Steam Device

Indeed,
on a nice and sunny day, the equipment could produce enough steam to sterilize
medical equipment safely, as well as use the equipment in cooking and in
cleaning. The steam may also be used for heating in industrial purposes, and
could even be used for desalinating drinking water. As we can see, there are
many positive uses to have a low-cost tool for this process.

This new device hangs
over water, instead of floating within it over fears of long-term contamination
over time. No thicker than an average tablet, this little tool will then absorb
the heat of the sun and then emit the heat to the water down below. At a point
of 100C, this releases the steam into the device, where it is then funneled and
pumped out of a filtered tube.

Speaking
about the system was Thomas Cooper, the assistant professor of mechanical
engineer at York University, who has led his work as a postdoc at MIT. He said
that: “It’s a completely passive system — you just leave it outside to absorb
sunlight,

“You
could scale this up to something that could be used in remote climates to
generate enough drinking water for a family, or sterilize equipment for one
operating room.”

A
transformative system

This new solar system has been
developed over time, and was also overseen by the likes of Gang Chen, the Carl
Richard Soderborg Professor of Power Engineering, MIT. They demonstrated a
graphite-covered foam device that floated within the water in 2014. However,
concerns over contamination meant that there was hesitation to continue with it
is use. By getting around the main issue of contamination unlike any other
device before it, this definitely opens some very interesting doors for
technology.

By using a device that absorbs the
short wavelength solar energy and heats up the device, the heat then is
radiated out using long wavelength infrared radiation into the water. This is
absorbed in by the water, then. The top layer then uses a small metal ceramic
composite device that operates as the solar absorption device.

They sandwich a layer of the carbon
foam that was used in the previous device, and a small tube at the end,
allowing for the foam to exit. As time goes on, this could be used for so many
purposes, and shows how we can create highly efficient and safe to use steam
without expensive or potentially contaminated contact arrangements.

Source: Green Tech News

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