Alternative Water Resources Prize - 9th Award


Dr. Wang’s work is at the forefront of the solar-water nexus, involving solar distillation, zero liquid discharge desalination, and atmospheric water harvesting and its application to PV cooling. The specific works, all of which have considerable scientific and implementation value, are: (1) a prototype and fully solar-driven, all-in-one “self-healing” solar distillation device; (2) a 3-D cylindrical-cup-shaped photothermal structure with record-breaking water evaporation rate, (3) a 3-D solar crystallizer to achieve zero-liquid-discharge desalination with high energy efficiency, (4) a photovoltaics-membrane distillation device that generates both electricity and water – that shifts electricity production from the ‘water consumer’ side to the ‘water producer’ side, and (5) a new nano vapor sorbent composed of a nano carbon hollow capsule containing deliquescent salt that successfully enables continuous atmospheric water generation.

Winner Profile

Dr. Peng Wang

Dr. Wang is Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.


• 2008 – PhD; University of California, Santa Barbara (Environmental Science and Management)
• 2004 – MA; University of California, Santa Barbara (Environmental Science and Management)
• 2000 – MS; Sun Yat-Sen University, China (Environmental Science)
• 1997 – BSc; Nanjing University, China (Environmental Science, , China, 1997

Selected Awards:

2018 – Innovation Award in Nano-Micro Science, Nano-Micro Conference
2018 – Emerging Investigator ( Environmental Science: Nano)



Acceptance Speech

peng wang300x300Members of the Prize Council, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I have a very profound sense of humility as I receive this award because the previous and current awardees are all seminal figures in the field of water research. I am overwhelmed to be included in their company.

First, please allow me to express my gratitude to the Prize Council for their recognition of my work at the solar-energy-water nexus over the past five years.

On this special occasion, I would like to thank my current and former students and collaborators with whom I work passionately on this important topic. My wife and my son have sacrificed tremendously so that I could make progress in my work and I owe them a huge debt.

Words cannot express my wholehearted gratitude to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia where I started and established my career as an independent researcher and assistant professor. As a matter of fact, I was one of only 77 (?) founding faculty members at KAUST, a fact that makes me feel proud to this day. I thank KAUST for its generous and unconditional support for my research, without which I would not have been able to move from a fresh PhD graduate to where I am now within eleven short years. To the best of my knowledge, I am the first individual faculty member from a Saudi university to receive PSIPW, which makes this award an even more important milestone for me and for KAUST.

In the past five years, my team and I have worked tirelessly to propose and test fully solar-energy driven and energy efficient technologies to produce clean drinking water from unconventional and alternative water sources, such as seawater, atmospheric water, or wastewater. Our technologies are promising for convenient production of essential clean drinking water for small-to-medium-sized communities at the point of consumption. At the same time, using alternative water sources, especially atmospheric water vapor, to increase the amount of electricity produced through solar energy is another direction that my team and I are pursuing.

My research will definitely continue along these paths and I sincerely hope that this prestigious award will inspire others, particularly talented innovators from the younger generations, to devote themselves to similar important endeavors. Only through continuous innovation can we ensure sustainable use of alternative water resources for future water and energy security.

In closing, I would like to say that visionary thinking by King Abdullah created KAUST and visionary thinking by Prince Sultan created this award. Their visions for encouraging researchers to solve the world’s challenges through science and technology innovations will have profound impact on us and the future generations to come. Let us work together and hard so that someday in a not-so-distant future people everywhere will have access to clean drinking water as well to clean energy!

Thank you!

Winning Work

[1] Wang, W.B., Shi, Y., Zhang, C.L., Shi, L., Chang, J., Li, R.Y., Jin, Y., Ong, C.S., Zuo, S.F., Wang, P.* "Simultaneous Production of Fresh Water and Electricity via Multistage Solar Photovoltaic Membrane Distillation", Nature Communications, 2019, 10 (3012).

[2] Li, R.Y., Shi, Y., Wu, M.C., Hong, S.H., Wang, P. "Improving Atmospheric Water Production Yield: Enabling Multiple Water Harvesting Cycles with Nano Sorbent", Nano Energy, 2019.

[3] Shi, Y., Zhang, C.L., Li, R.Y., Zhuo, S.F., Jin, Y., Shi, L., Hong, S.H., Chang, J., Ong, C.S., Wang, P. "Solar Evaporator with Controlled Salt Precipitation for Zero Liquid Discharge Desalination", Environmental Science & Technology, 2018, 52(20), 11822-11830.

[4] Shi, Y., Li, R.Y., Jin, Y., Zhuo, S.F., Shi, L., Chang, J., Hong, S., Ng, K.C., Wang, P. "A 3D Photothermal Structure toward Improved Energy Efficiency in Solar Steam Generation", Joule, 2018, 2(6), 1171-1186.

[5] Zhang, L.B., Tang, B., Wu, J.B., Li, R.Y., Wang, P.* "Hydrophobic Light-to-Heat Conversion Membranes with Self-Healing Ability for Interfacial Solar Heating", Advanced Materials, 2015, 27(33), 4889-4894.

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