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EnergyEfficient,Evaporative DesalinationUsingSuperhydrophobic (SH)Technology

Evaporative desalination is a simple and easy way to convert salt water (or generally contaminated or brackish water) into fresh water. The major problem with using an evaporative p desalination p process to p produce clean water from salt (ocean) water is the huge salt deposits created and the large amount of energy and fresh water required to remove these salt deposits from the desalination equipment. In addition, the corrosive effects of these deposited salts create a large additional maintenance cost. Because of these p problems and costs, evaporative desalination has all but been abandoned commercially. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a set of superhydrophobic coatings that greatly reduce the amount of energy and fresh water needed to clean l these h salt l residues id while hil also l greatly l reducing the salt waters corrosive effects. The reason why these new superhydrophobic coatings are so effective at mitigating the effects of salt has to do with the coatings ability to pin a layer of air on the coatings surface. This pinned air layer blocks the evaporated salt crystals from bonding to, or corroding the coated surface. Initial, small scale tests have shown good results at greatly reducing salt contamination and corrosion. The images at right show the results when SH coated and uncoated Al plates and pans are exposed to salt water. water These images demonstrate that the salt climbs and strongly adheres to the walls of the uncoated pan and Al plate, but does not climb or adhere to the SH coated structures. Successfully demonstrating this effect on a large scale would fundamentally change the commercial viability of evaporative desalination. This technology has the potential to substantially reduce the energy required and the associated carbon footprint needed to convert salt water to fresh water.

Sponsor: U.S.Departmentof Energy EnergyEfficiencyand RenewableEnergy

Partially coated aluminum plate with (right) and without (left) a SH coating, in a pan of salty water.

Features: Makesevaporative desalination commerciallyviableand environmentallyfriendly Saltcrystalsdont attachedtoORNLsSH coatingsasthey crystallize Saltcrystalsdont climbSHcoated structures t t Saltresidueiseasily removedwithout scrapingoruseof distilledwater SHcoatingsconsistof inert,electrically insulating, environmentallyfriendly nanotextured amorphoussilica SHcoatingvirtually eliminatesaltinduced corrosionandelectrical shortsbyblockingsalt waterfromcontacting thecoatedsurfaceand migratingtoother uncoatedareas

After evaporation of the salty water, a salt crust has climbed up the walls of the pan and the uncoated left side of the plate, but not the right SH coated side.

Salt crystals climbing up and over the sides of an uncoated aluminum pan.

JohnT.Simpson,Ph.D. Sr.ResearchStaff Nanosystems andStructures OakRidgeNational Laboratory P.O.Box2008;MS6054 OakRidge,TN37831 Phone:8655745565 FAX:8655749407 Email:

Salt crystals are confined and unattached to a SH coated aluminum pan.