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posted on 16.10.2019 by Ashreet Mishra

There is an increased discharge of produced water in the USA, which is causing decrease in the amount of usable water and is being rendered useless by refinery and extraction operations. Produced water that is obtained from these activities is usually not feasible to be used in any form. So, it becomes necessary to get the water to a quality standard, as per the US EPA, which will make this water suitable for both commercial as well as household purposes.

There have been a number of studies on Au, Ag and Carbon Nanotubes solar enabled steam generation with potential applications in water purification, distillation and sterilization of medical equipment. The key challenge with these nanoparticles is cost of production, hence limiting its wide application for clean water production. This work, for the first time, reports on activated carbon enabled steam generation hence addressing the cost limitations of metallic nanoparticles. Activated carbon has high solar absorptivity at various wavelengths of visible light.

This work uses Activated Carbon coated Polyurethane foam to simultaneously adsorb oil from the produced water and also yield surface vapors under application of solar light to get a clean distillate which can be used in various ways be it commercial or household. The given fabricated system will be an inexpensive and simple method to get clean water. The temporal evolution of the distillate has been measured as well as the temperature characteristics. Experiments were carried out using activated carbon and CNT nanofluids and polyurethane membrane with immobilized activated carbon and CNT. A simulated solar light of 1 KW ~1 Sun was used. The rate of evaporation, temporal and spatial evolution of bulk temperature in the water were monitored automatically and recorded for further data reductions. Parametric studies of the effect of nanoparticle concentration, water quality and salinity were performed. Experimental evidence showed that activated carbon has potential. Previous work reported for the first time that optimal activated carbon concentration for maximum steam generation is 60 % vol. There was a 160 % increase in steam production rate at 60 % concentration of activated carbon when compared with D.I. water.Different atmospheric conditions were varied and the concentration of the sun to see the effects on the production of water. The recovery capacity of the foam was also tested so as to determine the waste oil that can be obtained from the foam and if the foam can be reused without being disposed of. More than 95% oil can be recovered The quality analysis has been performed and is an integral focus of the work as the comparison with the USA EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will make it more robust and real world ready. The inclusion of Polyurethane foam, which is a major accumulating waste in the environment because of its use in packaging industry, and solar light as the energy source, to drive the distillation process, makes this a very clean and green process to treat produced water.


Degree Type

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Campus location


Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

A.G Agwu Nnanna

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Harvey Abramowitz

Additional Committee Member 2

Xiuling Wang

Additional Committee Member 3

Chandramouli Viswanathan Chandramouli



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