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New use for pine and poplar wood

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20 July 2018
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New use for pine and poplar wood


New use for pine and poplar wood
Engineers at the University of Maryland have found that porous types of wood from trees like poplar and pine can greatly increase the efficiency of water-to-steam conversion under sunlight. The process, called "solar steam generation", involves running water through a material or device that is heated by sunlight. The water evaporates into steam, leaving salt and contaminants behind.

While different materials can be used, including graphite and copper nanotubes, Hu and his team found wood to be effective, but not all types of wood are equal. Of the species they evaluated, the more porous types like pine and poplar were most efficient. They observed that denser species, like the tropical hardwood cocobolo, generate steam at a slower rate since they have fewer pores through which water can travel.

The researchers believe these same structural elements make wood a superior material for generating clean freshwater from seawater. A common problem with other materials is that salt deposits begin to build up inside the device as water evaporates, which blocks the water`s pathway to the top and prevents further evaporation. Since the channels inside of wood run straight up and down, salt deposits can simply dissolve back into the water below without blocking the way.

Hu believes that porous wood has the potential to generate freshwater on a large scale sometime in the near future. He envisions wooden solar steam generation devices being used in water treatment plants across regions with plenty of saltwater and sunshine, from California to Singapore to Saudi Arabia.


Source article and image: https://www.sciencedaily.com
December 13, 2017