Researchers from Yale and Rice University have developed a system that uses solar energy and nanoparticles to make saltwater drinkable. The system could potentially be used off-grid in remote areas or in domestic settings.
The system, known as nanophotonics-enabled solar membrane distillation (NESMD), incorporates a porous membrane with carbon black nanoparticles. The nanoparticles use sunlight energy to heat water on one side of the membrane, which filters out salt and other non-volatile contaminants while allowing water vapor to pass through it. The results of the research are published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.