James H. Zhang
James H. Zhang is a PhD candidate whose research concentrates on efficient, economical strategies for desalinating water using porous, interfacial evaporators. This technology utilizes solar energy to evaporate water from brackish sources wicked inside of a interfacial evaporator. The vapor can then be collected and condensed into clean water. Specifically, James is exploring the thermodynamics of solar-driven evaporation inside porous materials, particularly in the case of super-thermal evaporation rates (2-3 times beyond the thermal limit), to optimize porous materials for use in desalination devices. He has designed a MATLAB-based model to investigate the evaporation process and identify key variables that could be manipulated to maximize evaporation rates. The model, combined with a MATLAB model of light-structure interactions developed by James’s mentee, has the potential to yield a comprehensive understanding of transport phenomena in porous evaporators. A MathWorks Fellowship will enable James to continue his research in super-thermal evaporation rates, which will be critical in the development of desalination technology and could help the growing global need for efficient clean water production.