Reducing heat conduction enhances the photothermal efficiency of upcycled adsorbents

Meng Li, Bowen Liu, Zhijiang Liu, Yumeng Xiao, Hongmin Guo, Zehao An, Lidong Wang, Tony James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


Solar steam generation is an efficient way to address global freshwater shortages. However, water evaporation suffers from either inefficient heat conduction or relies on expensive materials and complex equipment. Herein, a porous hydrogel (AC-H) with molecular meshes, micron channels, and internal gaps is fabricated and used for metal ion adsorption. AC-H exhibits excellent uptake ability and can attain the levels required by industrial water safety standards. Subsequently, the exhausted AC-H hydrogel is vulcanized in situ (AC-MS) and upcycled for solar steam generation resulting in ≈1.41 kg m−2 h−1 evaporation rate under one sun irradition, which reduces costs and converts the waste into a resource. Furthermore, a heat management strategy is developed where a cold surface of specific area is introduced between the AC-MSx and bulk water to adsorb the heat loss. When the cold area is increased, the energy in the bulk water can be extracted by the coldsurface. which enhances the water evaporation rate. Significantly, the theoretical simulations are in good agreement with the experimental results. Therefore, this research provides a novel strategy to upcycle exhausted materials for photothermal technologies and reduces the heat conduction during solar-to-thermal evaporation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2209987
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number4
Early online date24 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant 21607044). This work was also supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant 2021MS102). T.D.J. wishes to thank the Royal Society for a Wolfson Research Merit Award and the Open Research Fund of the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Henan Normal University for support (2020ZD01).


  • adsorption
  • evaporators
  • heat conduction
  • heavy metals
  • photothermal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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