Aliyah Osman

MIT Department: Mechanical Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Prof. Evelyn Wang
Undergraduate Institution: The Ohio State University, Columbus
Website: LinkedIn
Research Poster
Lightning Talk



My name is Aliyah Osman. I was born in Washington D.C. but grew up in Yokosuka, Japan. I study civil engineering at the Ohio State University with minors in humanitarian engineering and French. As a Somali-American, I’m really passionate about improving water purification and access to clean water. In the past year, I’ve conducted research on the desalination of water at the Okinawan Institute of Science and Technology, as a result of this, I hope to pursue similar research topics in the future. In my free time, I enjoy beach hunting, growing and collecting plants, and observing nature.


2021 Abstract


Effectively Reducing Salt Accumulation with Shape Memory Alloys

Aliyah Osman1, Xiangyu Li2, Lenan Zhang2, and Evelyn Wang2
1Department of Civil, Environment, Geodetic Engineering, The Ohio
State University
2Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Unlike commercial desalinators that are costly and require a lot of energy, solar desalinators can be a sustainable and affordable way of acquiring drinkable water. The desalination process removes the salt in seawater, but at a cost of salt accumulation which decreases the efficiency of the process. To counter this, shape memory alloy springs and hydrogel can be used to effectively reduce salt accumulation. The springs are used to make a passive day-night cycle that submerges hydrogel at night and raises it at day from a container of water. When the hydrogel is submerged in water, it allows the salt to detach and dissipate away and therefore renew the desalination process. To simulate the day-night cycle, a solar simulator which mimics sunlight is turned on and off, respectively. As the solar simulator runs, the real-time mass change due to evaporation is recorded. This data will determine the evaporation rate and solar-to-vapor conversion efficiency. The device’s salt rejection is evaluated by a salinity test. Additionally, a force balance model is developed to check the viability of the desalination device. Solar desalinators can provide a solution to the water crisis that worsens each year. This research will help with advancing the use of solar desalinators as a means of providing clean water at a low price.