The development of a theoretical model of atmospheric water capture, opening up the possibility of a new reliable source of water.
Water is becoming an increasingly precious, and scarce, resource. A recently funded Sydney Nano Grand Challenge proposes to tackle this problem by capturing water directly from the atmosphere. However, there are significant theoretical challenges to be overcome before any successful implementation. Heat exchange occurs between water-laden air and any water capture surface, and this will depend on local flow conditions. At the same time, the ability to cool a surface will depend on the atmospheric conditions, and also on how the water is captured. The interplay of these myriad physical processes is still poorly understood. This project will examine the interplay of these effects, and ultimately determine how best to optimise a surface for water capture. This will inform the experimental investigations in the Grand Challenge, and open up a new pathway for harvesting water in dry conditions.
The possibility of harvesting water from the atmosphere, through dew collection, has been widely studied using macroscopic physical models , however this approach is strongly limited by local atmospheric conditions. Recent experiments have demonstrated surfaces that can cool well below ambient temperatures through radiative cooling , however the possibility of combining water capture with passive radiative cooling has received little attention. The challenge is that local surface dynamics have a strong effect on the water capture dynamics , while the interaction of the surface with the atmosphere at the macroscopic scale also has a significant effect. This project will seek to develop a model capturing this interplay of microscopic and macroscopic physical effects and so identify how best to proceed with any practical implementation of a water capture device.
 H. Vuollekoski et al., "Estimates of global dew collection potential on artificial surfaces", Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 19, 601 (2015).  M.M. Houssain and M. Gu, "Radiative Cooling: Principles, Progress, and Potentials", Adv. Sci. 3, 1500360 (2016).  D. Niu and G.H. Tang, "The effect of surface wettability on water vapor condensation in nanoscale", Sci. Rep. 6, 19192 (2016).
This project sits within the Sydney Nano Grand Challenge "Advanced Capture of Water from the Atmosphere (ACWA)". As such a successful project applicant will have the opportunity to work with a diverse range of researchers from across the University, and may be eligible for supplementary funding.
HDR Inherent Requirements
In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:
The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2693