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Hydrophobic coating for power plants that can significantly decrease CO2 emissions

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Posted November 5, 2014

DropWise, a new startup created by MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE) Associate Professor Kripa Varanasi; Department of Chemical Engineering (ChemE) Professor and Associate Provost Karen Gleason; MechE postdoc Adam Paxson ’09, SM ’11, PhD ’14; and ChemE postdoc David Borelli SM ’11 PhD’ 14, was recently named a Gold Winner at the MassChallenge 2014 Accelerator Program, out of 1,600 entrants.

On typical hydrophobic coatings, droplets forming from high-temperature steam soon spread out to coat the surface, quickly degrading their performance. A coating developed by the DropWise team, seen here, maintains its ability to foster droplet formation over long periods. Photo courtesy of the researchers.

On typical hydrophobic coatings, droplets forming from high-temperature steam soon spread out to coat the surface, quickly degrading their performance. A coating developed by the DropWise team, seen here, maintains its ability to foster droplet formation over long periods. Photo courtesy of the researchers.

DropWise manufactures a “grafted” hydrophobic coating that, when applied to condenser surfaces in power plants, prevents water from building up on pipes and slowing down the condensation process. The coating, which causes water droplets to quickly bead up and shed themselves from a surface, is one two-thousandth the thickness of a sheet of paper so that it itself doesn’t block condensation, but it is also strong enough to survive years of steam exposure. In addition to inventing the coating, the team has also developed a novel approach for scaling up the manufacturing process to an industrial level and enabling the coating to stick to surfaces through strong chemical bonds.

The DropWise team celebrates at the 2014 Mass Challenge. Missing from photo: Professor Karen Gleason. Photo courtesy of the researchers.

The DropWise team celebrates at the 2014 Mass Challenge. Missing from photo: Professor Karen Gleason. Photo courtesy of the researchers.

The DropWise team expects that the new technology can save 0.58 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions through improved efficiency — more than either solar or wind power. Watch how it works in the video below.

Source: MIT, written by Alissa Mallinson

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