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It is possible to create steam within seconds by focusing sunlight on nanoparticles mixed into water, according to new research.
That observation, reported Monday by scientists at Rice University in Texas, suggests myriad applications in places that lack electricity or burnable fuels. A sun-powered boiler could desalinate sea water, distill alcohol, sterilize medical equipment and perform other useful tasks.
Now, the article knows you will be skeptical,as well you should be, Gentle reader: however, the explanation, such as it is, pans out. Add this fine, fine dust to water, focus sunlight on it, and, even if the water is chilled, and without heating the water appreciably, SHAZAM! Steam forms almost instantaneously. 80% efficiency (compare to tops around 17% for solar). Cheap to make, the nanoparticles, essentially a catalyst, may be used again and again. Really? Really.
|Solar, Efficiency by Manufacturer. Source. Think-Solar-Power.com|
In the apparatus designed by the Rice team, steam forms in a vessel of water long before the water becomes warm to the touch. It is, in effect, possible to turn a container of water into steam before it gets hot enough to boil.
Of this rather obvious implication, not a peep from either from David Brown (the author of the Washington Times article), nor any other source that has come to my attention to date. As if sharing an in-joke, however, he does mention "as James Watt and other 18th-century inventors showed, if you can generate steam easily, you can create an industrial revolution." Funny. Funnier that the next sentence refers to the research's sponsorship -- Bill and Melinda Gates -- "in the hope it might prove useful to developing countries.."
I have reproduced the article via screenshot, below. Click to enlarge.
Be seeing you.