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Demonstration of highly efficient solar water distillation system

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Satoshi Ishii, Manpreet Kaur
National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (WPI-MANA) / Senior Researcher, Junior Researcher
Pledged: 631,600 JPY
Target Amount: 400,000 JPY
Funded
157 %
Supporters
62
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Comment from academist staff
Toward practical application of highly efficient sunlight-driven water evaporating material

Satoshi Ishii and Manpreet Kaur have succeeded in fabricating highly efficient sunlight-driven water evaporating material which is consisted of titanium nitride (TiN) nanoparticles as sunlight absorbers and ceramic wool for sucking water by capillary force. Since this composite material is simple and easy to handle, it has potentials to desalinate sea water in areas where people suffer from water shortage and to supply water in devastated areas. A material is valuable when it is used in real life. In the current project, they are stepping ahead to bring their research result to practical usage.

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miho otsuka

Maximize the utilization of solar energy

The sun is the most familiar renewable energy source. Among the various approaches, photovoltaic cell is the most popular and wide-spread method to convert sunlight to energy for human. Photovoltaic cells can be found in number of places from small-scale to large-scale applications; for instance, they have been used in wristwatches and houses.

The conversion efficiency is a critical factor to generate energy from the sun. Commercial photovoltaic cells have the light-to-electricity conversion efficiency around 10-20 %.

In stark contrast, the light-to-heat conversion efficiency is known to be higher than those of photovoltaic cells. We have recently demonstrated that TiN nanoparticles have light-to-heat conversion efficiencies above 90 %. Moreover, they are suited to quickly evaporate water by locally heating water only around them. Having this result, we think of using them to distill sea water with high efficiency.

Combining titanium nitride nanoparticles and ceramic wools for highly efficient sunlight driven water evaporation

Although water in pond or sea naturally evaporates, typically vapor is not visible. This is because in a natural process, the evaporation efficiency is low. However, when our composite material is under focused artificial sunlight, vapor is visible even at room temperature. The important factors behind our samples are high sunlight absorption efficiency and local heat transfer from the TiN nanoparticles to water by suppressing the heat dissipation.

In our study, we chose TiN nanoparticles as highly efficient sunlight absorbers. The average size of our TiN nanoparticles are 50 nanometer on average, which is around one thousand times smaller than the diameter of hair in terms of size. While the bulk color of TiN is quite similar to that of gold, TiN nanoparticles look black. Actually, they are “darker” than black! What we mean here is that TiN nanoparticles have even higher sunlight absorption efficiency that black nanoparticles which are conventionally considered as good sunlight absorbers. The reason for the high sunlight absorption of TiN nanoparticles are due to their optical resonances, termed as surface plasmon resonances. Different from other nanoparticles that can excite surface plasmon resonances, the surface plasmon resonances of TiN nanoparticles are broad enough to cover the majority of solar spectrum.

In addition, we developed a composite material by chemically bonding TiN nanoparticles on ceramic wool which looks like cotton. When this composite is floating on water, the ceramic wool sucks water by the capillary actions so that only the surface of TiN nanoparticles get wet and minimize the heating of surrounding water. With this rational design, the conversion efficiency from sunlight to vapor has become around 50 %.

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Toward cost-effective sea water desalination system

There are number of places in the world where access to clean water is limited and the only source of water is sea. Sea water can be desalinated by, for instance, reverse osmosis system, however, it consumes huge electrical power and is expensive. Moreover, it is not suited for small-scale water desalination.

In contrast, our composite material is simple and cost-effective, which makes it suitable for personal usage. It contains only abundant metallic elements; titanium and aluminum. These features make our composite material practically attractive.

Nevertheless, so far we have perform our experiment with an artificial sunlight; it is basically an intense lamp having a spectrum similar to sunlight. Since we have been working in the lab, the sample sizes were typically a few centimeters. For future practical applications, we think it is inevitable to do experiment outside under the sun with larger amount of samples. It is also necessary to design something like a roof to collect vapor to have distilled water without blocking incoming sunlight.

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Fundraising

As mentioned above, we would like to demonstrate solar water evaporation under the sun using our composite materials. For this purpose, we are planning to fabricate the sample to cover nearly 1 m² area and build a setup to keep the vapor and collect distilled water. In the outside experiment, we plan to distill sea water and make sure that the collected water is clean and drinkable. The donations raised by this crowd funding will be used to fabricate composite material and build a setup to collect distilled water. We very much appreciate your kind donations to support our project.

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Profile

Satoshi Ishii is a Senior Researcher at National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Tsukuba, Japan and also is an adjunct associate professor at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. He received his PhD from Purdue University in the United States. Manpreet Kaur is a graduate student at NIMS-Hokkaido University Joint Graduate Program pursuing her PhD. She obtained her M.Tech from Punjab University in India.

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Satoshi Ishii, Manpreet Kaur

Project timeline

Date Plans
Dec 2018 Start fundraising
Jan 2019 Sample fabrication
Feb-Apr 2019 Design and built a setup to collect vapor
May 2019 Water distillation experiment outside
Jun-Jul 2019 Improve the system design by based on the initial results
Aug-Sep 2019 Outside experiment (second round)

Pledge Rewards

1,000 JPY (Tax not included)
Featured: Research report (PDF)
Research report (PDF)
1000

Research report of the project will be sent.

32 supporters are supporting with this reward. (Non quantity limit)

5,000 JPY (Tax not included)
Featured: Acknowledgement in academic conferences
Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)
5000

Acknowledgement of the donators’ name in the presentation materials at academic conferences.

11 supporters are supporting with this reward. (Non quantity limit)

10,000 JPY (Tax not included)
Featured: Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe)
Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe) / Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)
10000

Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe) where we present our project outcome. Transportation expenses are not included.

9 supporters are supporting with this reward. (Non quantity limit)

30,000 JPY (Tax not included)
Featured: Sample
Sample / Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe) / Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)
30000

A small amount sample that we used in our project will be shipped to you. You can see water evaporation if you focus sunlight to the sample. Please note that this reward is shipped to those who have addresses in Japan.

8 supporters are supporting with this reward. (Non quantity limit)

50,000 JPY (Tax not included)
Featured: Acknowledgement in academic journal
Acknowledgement in academic journal / Sample / Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe) / Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)
50000

Acknowledgement of the donators’ name in the academic journal if our work is accepted.

0 supporters are supporting with this reward. (Non quantity limit)

100,000 JPY (Tax not included)
Featured: Invitation to a lab tour
Invitation to a lab tour / Acknowledgement in academic journal / Sample / Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe) / Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)
100000

Invitation to a lab tour at our institute in Tsukuba, Japan. Transportation expenses are not included.

2 supporters are supporting with this reward. (Non quantity limit)

Supporters will be charged the funding amount only if the project reaches the funding goal (JPY 400,000) before 2019年03月20日 19時00分 (JST: GMT+9).
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1,000 JPY (tax excluded)

Research report (PDF)

1000

32 supporters back
(Non quantity limit)

5,000 JPY (tax excluded)

Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)

5000

11 supporters back
(Non quantity limit)

10,000 JPY (tax excluded)

Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe) / Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)

10000

9 supporters back
(Non quantity limit)

30,000 JPY (tax excluded)

Sample / Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe) / Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)

30000

8 supporters back
(Non quantity limit)

50,000 JPY (tax excluded)

Acknowledgement in academic journal / Sample / Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe) / Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)

50000

0 supporters back
(Non quantity limit)

100,000 JPY (tax excluded)

Invitation to a lab tour / Acknowledgement in academic journal / Sample / Invitation to a private seminar (science cafe) / Acknowledgement in academic conferences / Research report (PDF)

100000

2 supporters back
(Non quantity limit)

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