Jun, 2021 - By WMR
Engineers have come up with a mangrove inspired “synthetic tree” which copies the natural processes of transferring water up from the roots into leaves.
Solar stills could prove to be an extremely useful way for producing drinkable water from the salty or dirty water, however there’s a lot of room for enhancing in efficiency. Recently, engineers from Virginia Tech have come up with a mangrove inspired “synthetic tree” which copies the natural processes of transferring water up from the stems and roots into leaves. Majority of these present devices work with the help of capillary action, in which the fluid climbs up from a narrow area by dragging the other molecules up, thanks to internal cohesion of liquid.
However, for the latest study, the team from Virginia Tech looked up to nature for more efficient system of water wicking. Capillary action has just a minor role in movement of water for plants – majority water molecules moves through transpiration. Transpiration includes a sort of suction, driven due to the lower water potentials within the air surrounding the plant. It encourages molecules of water to travel out of plant in the air, rising tension upon the molecules of water within the plant and dragging them upwards. Theoretically, the mechanism must be capable of pumping water at any height.
The new design by the Virginia Tech team is based upon transpiration process. The synthetic tree is prepared from 19 tubes of plastic 6 cm (2.4 in) tall and having only 3.175 mm (0.1 in) inner diameter. These tubes pull up the water to a graphite coated absorbent ceramic disk with 22.9 cm2 (3.5 in2) surface area, behaving like a leaf for evaporating surface. In studies, the researchers discovered that synthetic tree was competent of harvesting 3x more water compared to utilizing just a bulk reservoir. Team states that upcoming work involves testing of taller trees, adding extra leaves, along with using membranes for filtering salt out of water.