Stanley C. Moore Professor, electrical and computer engineering, Naomi Halas, and Texas Instruments Assistant Professor, electrical and computer engineering, Alessandro Alabastri, have been awarded a Standard Grant from the National Science Foundation for their project ‘Light Driven Evaporation System for Desalination.’
The project, which aims to create a scalable compact thermal desalination system that can turn high salinity water into fresh water, has been a focus of Alabastri for the past four years.
Alabastri commented, “I joined Rice in 2015, and even though I have been involved in many parallel projects, working on light-nanoparticles interaction for water desalination has been one of my main research lines.”
The project, which plans to utilize both graduate and undergraduate students for both experimental and theoretical activities, hopes to create a prototype that provides at least one gallon per minute of fresh water using light as a power source.
The theory behind the project is that light input, from sunlight or LEDs, can be efficiently converted into heat by interacting with specific types of nanoparticles. The project combines the understanding of nanoscale fundamental phenomena and the engineering challenges of building the prototype.
When asked what the National Science Foundation Award means to him, Alabastri answered, “This grant will allow us to bridge the gap between fundamental research and prototype realization. I am really proud to start with a multidisciplinary project aiming at moving significant discoveries from the lab to the market. The potential societal and environmental impact of this technology adds even more motivation for this project.”