New Graphite Sponge Can Convert Sunlight into Steam


Our Thursday green news brings you the latest on green architecture, climate change, energy and communities:

design innovation, clean energy, green innovation

Photo and graphic courtesy of MIT

  • New graphite sponge can convert sunlight into steam: Scientists from MIT have recently presented a new material, which has a high efficiency to convert sunlight into steam. This material consisting of a four-inch graphite sponge holds a great potential for improvement of technologies such as water desalination or solar thermal power. It’s essentially a layer of graphite flakes with carbon foam underneath, which allows the disc to float on water since it’s porous, and its dark color attracts maximum sun energy. The final product allows for conversion of up to 85 percent of incoming solar energy into steam, which is far more efficient than any other existing methods. As Gang Chen, researcher and a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, explained: “Basically, if you heat up the whole volume of the water, you don’t raise the temperature very much. However, if you only heat up a small amount of water, then the temperature rise could be high.”
  • Company General Mills joins climate change fight: The company known mainly as the producer of Cheerios is the first major food company that committed to cut emissions throughout its operations as well  supply chains. The company also plans to lobby for climate action: “The imperative is clear: Business, together with governments, NGOs and individuals, needs to act to reduce the human impact on climate change.” As John Church, the company’s executive vice president of supply chain operations explained: compared to most food producers who focus their sustainability work on their own factories and offices, almost two-thirds of the General Mills greenhouse gas emissions and 99% of its water use occurs upstream of its own factories. General Mills pledges it will require “key ingredient suppliers to demonstrate environmental, social and economic improvements in their supply chains” and commit to “achieve zero net deforestation in high-risk supply chains by 2020”.
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