Exploring Clean Technology

Graphene Sieve Turns Seawater Into Clean Drinking Water

July 4, 2017

First of all, Happy Canada Day, and Happy Independence Day to our southern friends!/_resources/images/graphene-application-salt-water-desalinate.jpg

As many readers are already aware, graphene is an allotrope of carbon first isolated by scientists in 2004. It is just one atom thick, extremely light and around 200 times stronger than steel. It is highly flexible and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, making it of huge interest to scientists in real-world applications.

Scientists at the University of Manchester in the UK have recently shown how graphene-oxide membranes can be used as an efficient filtration system. Publishing their findings in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the team shows how these membranes could be used to filter nanoparticles, organic molecules and salts. The team had shown how when immersed in water, the graphene-oxide membranes would swell up, causing larger salt ions or molecules to be blocked out. Building on this, they created a sieve that stops the graphene membrane from swelling when exposed to water, meaning the pore size can be controlled. As a result, they could filter out common salts (exhibited 97% rejection of sodium chloride) from water, like seawater, making it safe to drink.

An estimated 663 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water close to their homes, with many having to travel long distances or queue for hours to get it. Under its current Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations hopes to make sure everyone on the planet has access to safe water by 2030. The team says their technology could be scaled up – potentially providing hope to the millions of people around the globe who have limited access to clean water.

Again, and why should any of us be surprized that advanced materials and material science will help us make a cleaner and more sustainable future??

Until soon… Ian