Researchers have unveiled an innovative method for converting seawater into drinkable water, offering a potential lifeline in disaster-stricken areas lacking electrical power. Unlike the prevalent reverse osmosis approach, which demands substantial electricity and high pressure, this groundbreaking technique was crafted by a team comprising scientists from the Universities of Bath, Swansea, and Edinburgh.
This method circumvents the need for external pressure, employing a modest amount of electrical energy to coax chloride ions through a membrane toward a positively charged electrode. In a piston-like manner, this propels water molecules through the membrane while retaining sodium ions on the opposite side. The chloride ions are then recycled, perpetuating the process and drawing in more water molecules.
Professor Frank Marken, leader of the study, envisions its application in locales with limited infrastructure, such as remote areas or disaster zones. Traditional reverse osmosis demands immense power and dedicated plants, making it unsuitable for smaller-scale needs. This novel technique, however, promises to conserve energy and bypass industrial-scale processing.
At present, this technology is at a proof-of-concept stage, handling only a few milliliters of water. The team seeks partners for collaboration and investment to scale up to a liter and refine energy consumption calculations. They also aim to explore potential applications beyond desalination, such as drying processes and water recovery.
Professor Jan Hoffman, Co-Director of the Water Innovation Research Centre, considers this discovery a potential game-changer, with broad implications for desalination, drying processes, and water recovery. While there’s much work ahead to fully develop this technology, its promise shines brightly in the realm of water purification and separation.
Dr. Mariolino Carta from Swansea University highlights the vast potential of microporous materials in various fields, including water purification and catalysis. The road ahead may yield even better materials and processes.
This groundbreaking research is detailed in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Source: University of Bath