The capture of moisture from the atmosphere through condensation has the potential to provide a sustainable source of water. Here, we investigate the condensation of humid air at low subcooling condition (11 °C), similar to conditions for natural dew capture, and explore how water contact angle and contact angle hysteresis affect the rates of water capture. We compare water collection on three families of surfaces: (i) hydrophilic (polyethylene oxide, MPEO) and hydrophobic (polydimethylsiloxane, PDMS) molecularly thin coatings grafted on smooth silicon wafers, which produce slippery covalently attached liquid surfaces (SCALSs), with low contact angle hysteresis (CAH = 6°); (ii) the same coatings grafted on rougher glass, with high CAH (20°–25°); (iii) hydrophilic polymer surfaces [poly(N-vinylpyrrolidone), PNVP] with high CAH (30°). Upon exposure to water, the MPEO SCALS swell, which likely further increases their droplet shedding ability. MPEO and PDMS coatings collect similar volume of water (around 5 l m−2 day−1), both when they are SCALS and non-slippery. Both MPEO and PDMS layers collect about 20% more water than PNVP surfaces. We present a basic model showing that, under low heat flux conditions, on all MPEO and PDMS layers, the droplets are so small (600–2000 µm) that there is no/low heat conduction resistance across the droplets, irrespective of the exact value of contact angle and CAH. As the time to first droplet departure is much faster on MPEO SCALS (28 min) than on PDMS SCALS (90 min), slippery hydrophilic surfaces are preferable in dew collection applications where the collection time frame is limited.
Exploring the water capture efficiency of covalently attached liquid-like surfaces
Note: This paper is part of the JCP Special Topic on Chemical Physics of Controlled Wettability and Super Surfaces.
Anthony Katselas, Isaac J. Gresham, Andrew R. J. Nelson, Chiara Neto; Exploring the water capture efficiency of covalently attached liquid-like surfaces. J. Chem. Phys. 7 June 2023; 158 (21): 214708. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0146847
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