Making Seawater Drinkable with Nanotech

Robin Bergman
April 21st 2014

Thanks to a recent discovery in nanotechnology application is it possible to turn seawater into fresh and drinkable water. This technology uses a nano-membrane of graphene to filter the salt.

A problem scientists and engineers are trying to solve for a long time is the filtration of salt from oceans, this process could be a lifesaver for all kinds of species.

Complex and expensive filter installations able to remove salt from seawater already exist. Nevertheless, nanotechnology may offer an alternative that is easier, cheaper and faster than the existing systems.

The authors of this study are University of Manchester researchers. They created a filter by laminating graphene oxide, comparing it to an ordinary coffee filter. This laminate has the ability to dry and become airtight, while wet nano holes open and let water flow through. In this stage of the study, it is not possible yet to make the holes smaller than 9 angstroms (0.9 nanometer), which is already extremely small. This is a must for filtering the small salt molecules out of the water.

Dr Irina Grigorieva, a co-author of the work, gives hope and says: “Our ultimate goal is to make a filter device that allows a glass of drinkable water made from seawater after a few minutes of hand pumping. We are not there yet but this is no longer science fiction.”

Read more on: The University of Manchester
Related post: Using Wood to Purify Water

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