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Mesoporous cellulose/TiO2/SiO2/TiN-based nanocomposite hydrogels for efficient solar steam evaporation: low thermal conductivity and high light-heat conversion

  • Zhuangzhi SunEmail author
  • Zhaoxin Li
  • Wenzong Li
  • Fuguo Bian
Original Research


Solar steam evaporation is regarded as a green and efficient method to achieve desalination and purification. However, the low-efficiency photothermal conversion of its evaporator is an obstacle to widespread application. Focusing on the interface evaporation method through photothermal conversion, the current bottleneck of the technology is that it is impossible to achieve in-depth interface control of the incident light path to obtain higher water evaporation efficiency. We propose a mesoporous cellulose-based hydrogel for the manufacture of a high-efficiency solar steam evaporator. This type of solar evaporator achieves an enhanced capillary force and optical path extension to increase the photothermal conversion efficiency and evaporation rate. These evaporation performance advantages can all be attributed to the dense mesoporous structure, low thermal conductivity, and high light absorption efficiency. The results showed that under a solar light intensity of 1.5 kW m−2, the mesoporous structure of the MCNT–TiO2–SiO2–TiN hydrogel-based evaporator has an excellent evaporation rate (1.853 kg m−2 h−1) and high solar energy conversion efficiency (77.39%) due to the low thermal conductivity (0.71997 W m−1 k−1), high light absorption efficiency (98.3%, wavelength 190–3000 nm) and good hydrophilic properties (XRD and FT-IR tests). Our results demonstrate a new full-hydrogel solar steam evaporation method by using a simple, easily obtained, reusable, and low-cost solar desalination and purification system based on evaporation can yield fresh water from seawater and sewage. The evaporation technique can be used to produce a simple, easily obtained, reusable, and low-cost solar desalination and purification system for pure freshwater resources from seawater and sewage.


Solar steam evaporation Desalination Cellulose-hydrogel Light-heat conversion 



We gratefully acknowledge the financial support by China Postdoctoral Science Foundation Funded Project (Grant Nos. 2018M630330 and 2019T120245), Natural Science Foundation of Heilongjiang Province (Grant No. QC2018046), National Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51905085), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (Grant No. 2572017PZ12).

Supplementary material

10570_2019_2823_MOESM1_ESM.docx (908 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 907 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhuangzhi Sun
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Zhaoxin Li
    • 1
  • Wenzong Li
    • 1
  • Fuguo Bian
    • 3
  1. 1.Province Key Laboratory of Forestry Intelligent Equipment Engineering, College of Mechanical and Electrical EngineeringNortheast Forestry UniversityHarbinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Bio-based Material Science and TechnologyNortheast Forestry UniversityHarbinPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.The 8th Institute of Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight TechnologyShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China

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