Abstract

Solar steam generation (SSG) has been proposed as one of the most advanced techniques to trigger solar energy desalination of sea water. Although many efforts have been dedicated to develop SSG devices, the efficiency remains relatively low. Previous work was mainly focused on thermal insulation film and light absorption. Attention has seldom been concentrated on device structure. Inspired by the manner of water transportation within flowers, we designed an artificial SSG unit which can effectively speed up the water transpiration from the bulk to the surface. Another advantage of such a device is that steam generation is separated from the bulk salty solution and thereby the solar thermal evaporation can be improved greatly. As demonstrated via the desalination experiment, the mass change and evaporation rate under 1 solar irradiation can reach as high as 2.51 kg/m2 and 1.26 kg/m2·h−1, respectively. Meanwhile, the evaporation efficiency is 74%. These values are much higher than those of traditional SSG devices and bulk water.

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