Solar steam technology revealed by Rice University

Solar steam technology revealed by Rice University

November 20, 2012 0 By Angie Bergenson

Rice University Solar Steam Project

Rice University scientists unveil solar steam

Scientists from the Rice University in Houston, Texas, have revealed a new technology that could be a major boon to solar energy. The technology is capable of converting solar energy directly into steam, a method that scientists refer to as “solar steam.” The method comes from Rice University’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics and is considered so powerful that it can even create steam from near-freezing water. Such technology could have profound implications for sanitation and water purification efforts around the world.

Technology boasts of high energy efficiency

The new technology makes use of nanoparticles that have been developed by Rice University. These particles are designed specifically to harness the power of the sun, super-heat water, and produce steam. The solar steam technology boasts of energy efficiency of more than 24%, according to researchers. Conventional photovoltaic solar energy systems have an average of 15% energy efficiency. Though the solar steam system has major potential in the field of sanitation, scientists suggest that it will first be used to produce electrical power.

Solar steam has promising water sanitation implications

In the future, the solar steam system could be used to provide clean water to developing countries. Because the system can super heat water on a nanoscale using its nanoparticles, researchers believe that many of the water problems that some countries are having could be solved. The solar steam system can generate large amounts of steam locally, rather than relying on external sources for heat or using other equipment. This allows the system to be an efficient and effective alternative to traditional water sanitation methods.

Steam could be more accessible to smaller countries

Steam is the world’s most used industrial liquids and is used in a wide array of industries for sanitation purposes and as a way to generate electricity. The solar steam technology from Rice University could help make steam more economically viable for small communities and developing countries that have a need for clean water as well as electricity.

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