Professor Chen Zhigang and Professor Zhang Lisha’s research team of Donghua University produced a three-dimensional carbon aerogel from watermelon pulp, which can be used as an effective photothermal material for solar water desalination. The research result “Watermelon flesh-derived carbon aerogel with hierarchical porous structure for interfacial solar steam generation” is published in Solar RRL.
The key to solar water desalination technology is to develop high-performance photothermal evaporation materials. Researchers including Prof. Chen Zhigang and Prof. Zhang Lisha from DHU produced three-dimensional carbon aerogel (CA) with the hierarchical porous structure by hydrothermal-carbonization/ freeze-drying/ carbonization of watermelon pulp, which had a 93% solar energy absorption efficiency and improved the photothermal conversion rate.
In addition, the cost of the 1m^2 CA evaporator does not exceed $16.43, which is lower than or comparable to other evaporators. CA’s low thermal conductivity and high evaporation rate make it an effective photothermal material for solar desalination and provide some ideas for developing other biomass-derived evaporators.