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‘Carbon Nanoflorets’ for Efficient Heat Conversion

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    3rd Nov, 2023

Context:

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay have made a remarkable discovery in the field of solar energy by developing novel material called carbon nanoflorets that exhibit unprecedented efficiency in converting sunlight into heat.

What are Carbon Nanoflorets?

  • Carbon nanoflorets are novel materials which are spherical nanostructures composed of carbon cones and exhibit excellent light-absorbing capabilities.

How they are made?

  • The process begins with a white material called dendritic fibrous nanosilica (DFNS) which is heated along with acetylene gas.

Dendritic fibrous nanosilica (DFNS): A white material used in the production of carbon nanoflorets that undergoes a transformation upon heating and reacting with acetylene gas.

  • The white powder undergoes a transformation, turning black as carbon is deposited onto the DFNS surface.
  • Further treatment removes the silicon particles, leaving behind spherical nanostructures composed of carbon cones.

Significance:

Solar stills: Devices used for water vaporization using solar energy.

  • According to the research conducted at IIT Bombay, carbon nanoflorets have an outstanding efficiency of 87% in converting sunlight into heat.
  • Carbon nanoflorets have the unique ability to absorb not only visible and ultraviolet light but also infrared radiation, which makes up more than half of the energy in sunlight.
  • Unlike conventional materials, nanoflorets can absorb visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light, allowing them to harness a significantly higher amount of energy from sunlight.
  • A 1 square meter coating of nanoflorets can vaporize 5 liters of water in just an hour, showing at least five times better efficiency than commercial solar stills.

Applications:

  • The potential applications of carbon nanoflorets are vast.
  • They can be used for heating homes in regions with low temperatures, sterilizing surfaces in hospitals, and even in commercial solar stills for water vaporization, with efficiency at least five times better than existing solutions.
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