Published on July 23rd, 2014 | by Jo Borrás9
More Steam From Less Energy, Thanks to Creepy Sponge Thing
A new, sponge-like material developed engineers at MIT can convert water to steam using just 1% of the sunlight required by conventional steam-producing solar generators. Floating above the water and looking an awful lot like the Smog Monster from this 1971 Godzilla movie, this spongy substance is made by spreading graphite flakes onto layers of carbon-based foam.
Most importantly for the generation of steam energy, the foam is also riddled with tiny pores that allow water – through capillary action from applied heat – to make its way up through the material, and is reportedly capable of converting as much as 85% of its received energy into steam-producing goodness.
Steam, of course, can be put to use in a variety of industrial machines and engines, and can also be used to generate electricity through the use of steam engine powered generators. That’s not where it stops, though. “Steam is important for desalination, hygiene systems, and sterilization,” says Hadi Ghasemi, a postdoctoral MIT student who ran the material development. “Especially in remote areas where the sun is the only source of energy, if you can generate steam with solar energy, it would be very useful.”
While not in the same energy-production league as some supercritical solar steam generators, the MIT team believes their new graphite/carbon sponge will have a commercial edge thanks to its low manufacturing cost and comparatively cheap materials. In addition, the new MIT sponge and may be suitable for a new range of similarly inexpensive and compact, steam engines, particularly as this new method of steam generation offers a significant improvement over conventional thermal solar arrays.
You can check out a still from Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster, below, and let us know if you think MIT’s new invention looks like Hedorah (the Smog Monster’s proper name) in the comments section, below. Enjoy!
Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (Hedorah)
Source | Images: Gizmag.