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November 22 2012

Making steam without water, thanks to nanoparticles


It is possible to create steam within seconds by focusing sunlight on nanoparticles mixed into water, according to new research.

That observation, reported Monday by scientists at Rice University in Texas, suggests myriad applications in places that lack electricity or burnable fuels. A sun-powered boiler could desalinate sea water, distill alcohol, sterilize medical equipment and perform other useful tasks.

"We can build a portable, compact steam generator that depends only on sunlight for input. It is something that could really be good in remote or resource-limited locations," said Naomi Halas, an engineer and physicist at Rice who ran the experiment.

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