Graphene Sieve Makes Sea Water Drinkable

Posted: Apr 4 2017, 3:55am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Graphene Sieve Makes Sea Water Drinkable
Graphene-oxide membranes have attracted considerable attention as promising candidates for new filtration technologies. Now the much sought-after development of making membranes capable of sieving common salts has been achieved. Image Credit: University of Manchester
  • Graphene-Based Sieve Turns Seawater Into Drinking Water

The researchers have tinkered with stuff and made a graphene-based sieve that converts seawater into pure drinking water.

Membranes made of graphene-oxide have been under consideration for quite awhile as possible novel filtration technologies. Now though the manufacturing of membranes that hold onto salt in seawater have revolutionized water purification as we know it.

This provides great potential for making drinking water available to millions of poverty-stricken people in the global village.

Erstwhile examples abound of graphene-based membranes being used to separate gases and filter water through their finely porous structure. They apparently filter out tiny nanoparticles, organic gunk and even some of the coarser salts.

Up until now, they were not capable of sieving common salts because these salts required even finer sieves. When these membranes were dipped in water, they became swollen and hence smaller salts went through them yet larger ions or molecules did not.

These graphene membranes have been further developed by a group of researchers based in Manchester. The thing is to aid the membrane to avoid swelling when it is dipped in water.

Once the pore size is controlled with great difficulty, the salts can be filtered out in the sieve and pure drinking water is obtained at the other end. Global warming is already reducing the water supplies in big metropolitan cities.

Thus wealthy states are also investing in this technology for the future. Also after major deluges in California, some of the most well-to-do cities are looking forward to alternative water supplies as a solution to the water crisis.

Common salts found in water tend to form a shell of water molecules surrounding salt molecules. Thus the capillary action of the graphene-based membrane separates the two. Desalination is therefore a cinch.

Taking the pore size down to the atomic level is what led to an increase in the efficacy of desalination technology. In the future the pore size could be virtually custom-made to the level the consumer wants all the better to filter out whatever solids or impurities that need to be removed from the liquid.

This is indeed revolutionary technology that will change the world.

This new technology was explained on a technical basis by a group of The University of Manchester scientists in the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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