CHICAGO, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at the University of Chicago (UChicago) have developed a pioneering new method of solar-driven distillation or solar steam generation to successfully distill small batches of purified water.
But they are still searching for a way to do it on a large scale, said a news release posted on the university's website on Tuesday.
The researchers used a porphyrin covalent organic framework (POF), a newly discovered class of materials, in the new method. POFs can grow uniformly on the surface of a variety of materials with different levels of porosity, and they show high performance for water evaporation.
In the lab, POFs successfully grew on the inner and outer surfaces of every tested material. And every template showed favorable photothermal properties, indicating that POF-based materials are promising candidates for solar steam generation. The POF membrane was able to capture more than 95 percent of light across the majority of the spectrum of sunlight.
The ability of POFs to grow on many types of materials makes them easily adaptable for use with locally available materials. This versatility, coupled with the easy, one-step fabrication process, could make the method practical for large-scale production.
The POF-based approach proved highly effective in a lab setting, and the researchers plan to conduct further experiments outside the lab to observe the practical performance of POFs.
And they suggest POFs could help drive the sustainable water purification systems of the future.
"POF-based interface engineering design shows promise for large-scale purification methods, and it could also be used for desalination, wastewater treatment and beyond," said Zijing Xia, a graduate student at UChicago Pritzker Molecular Engineering and lead author of the research.
The results of the innovative work have been published in the journal Advanced Materials Interfaces.