On September 7, alumnae Mina Mahdian (ChemE MASc 1T9) won second place in an oral presentation during the 2021 Virtual International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) / Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition (CCCE).
Her presentation entitled, Enhanced Solar Water Evaporation under Low-intensity Sunlight with Wood Biochar Monolith (WBM), was presented as part of the Environmental Chemistry and Sustainability Symposium.
With the ever-growing population and increasing global warming, many countries could face freshwater scarcity in the future. One of the methods to solve this issue is desalination. Desalination is a process of removing salts from saline solutions to produce fresh water. Currently, the challenges of desalination technology are high energy consumption, complex operational procedure and material cost. Mahdian’s work suggests an easy and affordable way to purify water via evaporation using wood biochar monolithic (WBM) under low-intensity sunlight. WBM is a low-cost and renewable porous carbon produced by converting wood in a high-temperature pyrolysis process. A specific goal of her research is to determine how WBM, its orientation, dimension and wood precursor can affect evaporation enhancement performance. Options for optimizing WBM-enhanced solar water evaporation are addressed. The insight from her research will benefit the development of a portable device for freshwater generation in remote areas under low-intensity sunlight. Moreover, as carbon in wood has been captured by trees via photosynthesis, the chemically stable carbon in WBM represents carbon removed from the atmosphere and stored, making pyrolysis a “carbon-negative” technology. Mahdian’s research adds a new biochar application to the current list and helps make large-scale biochar applications a viable strategy for alleviating climate change challenges.
Mahdian is currently a PhD student at the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. During her MASc at the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry, she was supervised by Professors Charles Jia and Donald Kirk.