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Title: Pathways and challenges for efficient solar-thermal desalination

Abstract

Solar-thermal desalination (STD) is a potentially low-cost, sustainable approach for providing high-quality fresh water in the absence of water and energy infrastructures. Despite recent efforts to advance STD by improving heat-absorbing materials and system designs, the best strategies for maximizing STD performance remain uncertain. To address this problem, we identify three major steps in distillation-based STD: (i) light-to-heat energy conversion, (ii) thermal vapor generation, and (iii) conversion of vapor to water via condensation. Using specific water productivity as a quantitative metric for energy efficiency, we show that efficient recovery of the latent heat of condensation is critical for STD performance enhancement, because solar vapor generation has already been pushed toward its performance limit. We also demonstrate that STD cannot compete with photovoltaic reverse osmosis desalination in energy efficiency. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of factors other than energy efficiency, including cost, ease of maintenance, and applicability to hypersaline waters.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [5]; ORCiD logo [2]
  1. Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN (United States); Yale Univ., New Haven, CT (United States)
  2. Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN (United States)
  3. Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO (United States)
  4. Columbia Univ., New York, NY (United States)
  5. Yale Univ., New Haven, CT (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Rice Univ., Houston, TX (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
OSTI Identifier:
1613519
Grant/Contract Number:  
EE0008397
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Science Advances
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2375-2548
Publisher:
AAAS
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; Science & Technology

Citation Formats

Wang, Zhangxin, Horseman, Thomas, Straub, Anthony P., Yip, Ngai Yin, Li, Deyu, Elimelech, Menachem, and Lin, Shihong. Pathways and challenges for efficient solar-thermal desalination. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aax0763.
Wang, Zhangxin, Horseman, Thomas, Straub, Anthony P., Yip, Ngai Yin, Li, Deyu, Elimelech, Menachem, & Lin, Shihong. Pathways and challenges for efficient solar-thermal desalination. United States. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aax0763
Wang, Zhangxin, Horseman, Thomas, Straub, Anthony P., Yip, Ngai Yin, Li, Deyu, Elimelech, Menachem, and Lin, Shihong. Fri . "Pathways and challenges for efficient solar-thermal desalination". United States. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aax0763. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1613519.
@article{osti_1613519,
title = {Pathways and challenges for efficient solar-thermal desalination},
author = {Wang, Zhangxin and Horseman, Thomas and Straub, Anthony P. and Yip, Ngai Yin and Li, Deyu and Elimelech, Menachem and Lin, Shihong},
abstractNote = {Solar-thermal desalination (STD) is a potentially low-cost, sustainable approach for providing high-quality fresh water in the absence of water and energy infrastructures. Despite recent efforts to advance STD by improving heat-absorbing materials and system designs, the best strategies for maximizing STD performance remain uncertain. To address this problem, we identify three major steps in distillation-based STD: (i) light-to-heat energy conversion, (ii) thermal vapor generation, and (iii) conversion of vapor to water via condensation. Using specific water productivity as a quantitative metric for energy efficiency, we show that efficient recovery of the latent heat of condensation is critical for STD performance enhancement, because solar vapor generation has already been pushed toward its performance limit. We also demonstrate that STD cannot compete with photovoltaic reverse osmosis desalination in energy efficiency. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of factors other than energy efficiency, including cost, ease of maintenance, and applicability to hypersaline waters.},
doi = {10.1126/sciadv.aax0763},
journal = {Science Advances},
number = 7,
volume = 5,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {7}
}

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