A process that can help millions of people turn seawater into drinking water was announced recently by several scientists in the UK. The amazing material, graphene, is at the core of the new process. Graphene is the best heat conductor available today. Graphene is the thinnest material in the world but it is also stronger than steel, and of course, it’s lighter too. Some scientists at universities in the UK have developed a membrane-based on graphene and can filter ordinary salt. This can be a very excellent saltwater filter.
Their new research shows the potential of the real world to provide clean drinking water for millions of people who struggle to gain access to adequate sources of clean water. The discovery was at a university in the UK.
A spokesman at the university said that by 2025, the United Nations estimated that 14 percent of the world’s population would face water scarcity. This study might help a lot of countries to acquired freshwater for their citizens, especially for developing countries that don’t have enough facilities to turn saltwater into freshwater.
Graphene-oxide membrane systems are expected to be made in smaller sizes so that this technology can be accessed by countries that may not have the financial infrastructure to fund large installations without sacrificing the clean water produced.
Graphene-oxide membranes developed at the Institute in the city of Manchester have demonstrated the potential for filtering nanoparticles, organic molecules, and even large salts. However, they cannot be used to filter ordinary salt used in desalination technology, making seawater fresh by separating salt from water, which requires even smaller filtering.
Previous research at the university found that when dipped in water, the graphene-oxide membrane became slightly bloated and smaller salts flowed through the membrane along with water, but larger molecules or ions were blocked.
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That scientist group has now further developed the graphene membrane and found it strategic to avoid membrane swelling when exposed to water. The size of the pores on the membrane can be precisely controlled so that it can filter ordinary salt from saltwater and make it safe to drink.
The university spokeswoman added, “While the effects of climate change continue to reduce the water supply in modern cities, rich modern countries also invest in desalination technology. When ordinary salt dissolves in water, it always forms a ‘shell’ of water molecules around salt molecules. This allows the fine vessels of the graphene-oxide membrane to prevent the salt from flowing along with water. Water molecules can pass through the membrane barrier and flow quickly, which is ideal for applying this membrane to desalination.”
The realization of a measured membrane with uniform pore sizes as large as an atom is an important step forward and it will open new possibilities for increasing the efficiency of desalination technology.
The issue of drought has indeed made a lot of people worry about their survival. Despite the fact there are still a lot of sources of water in the world, we can’t be careless when it comes down to preparation. These scientists from the UK tell us to prepare for the worst-case scenario indirectly by doing their research.