In contrast to autoclaves that require electricity to produce steam, the solarclave uses sunlight and recyclable metal and carbon nanoparticles. When mixed into an aqueous solution, the nanoparticles absorb energy more quickly than the surrounding liquid. As sunlight collects into a mirrored dish, the solution heats up and converts the water molecules into steam. The device is very efficient: it uses only 20 percent of its energy to gear up to this point. The other 80 percent is spent sustaining the steam.