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New, low-cost device could provide drinking water to people affected by natural disasters

The idea of using energy from the sun to evaporate and purify water is ancient. The Greek philosopher Aristotle reportedly described such a process more than 2,000 years ago. Now, researchers are bringing this technology into the modern age, using it to sanitize water at what they report to be record-breaking rates. By draping black, carbon-dipped paper in a triangular shape and using it to both absorb and vaporize water, they have developed a method for using sunlight to generate clean water with near-perfect efficiency. The paper's bottom edges soak up water, while the carbon coating absorbs solar energy and transforms it into heat for evaporation. Scientists believe the low-cost technology could provide drinking water in regions where resources are scarce or where natural disasters have struck.

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