31 August, 2023
When nanomaterials researcher Qiaoqiang Gan sat with his daughter in 2017 to watch Life of Pi, his attention and imagination were captured by the floating solar still that the shipwrecked boy uses to generate drinking water from sea water.
At the time, Gan had recently begun applying his expertise in light-absorbing nanomaterials to develop materials that heat up very efficiently in sunlight for use in a water distillation apparatus for clean drinking water production.
“When I saw the solar still in the movie, I immediately understood the impact on our daily life, especially under the pressure of global warming,” Gan says. “As the climate changes, access to fresh water will become more and more important.” In 2018, Gan set up a company called Sunny Clean Water to turn his solar still concept into an inexpensive, electricity-free product for generating safe drinking water from impure or brackish sources.
“As the climate changes, access to fresh water will become more and more important.”