Steam from the Sun

Jennifer Chu MIT News Office A new material structure developed at MIT generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. The new material is able to convert 85 percent of incoming solar energy into steam — a significant improvement over recent approaches to solar-powered steam generation. “That’s exciting for us because we’ve come up with a new approach to solar steam generation.” From sun to steam The approach itself is relatively simple: Since steam is generated at the surface of a liquid, Ghasemi looked for a material that could both efficiently absorb sunlight and generate steam at a liquid’s surface. As water seeps into the graphite layer, the heat concentrated in the graphite turns the water into steam.

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