Tall Drink of Water

Chances are, if you are reading this article, you don’t have a water problem. If you live in California, things might not be great, your grass may be rather brown, but you have water to drink. And that’s the main point. Sadly, many people around the world don’t have access to clean drinking water, and as the population continues to increase, things aren’t going to get any better.

This may seem counterintuitive, since a vast majority of our planet is water; however, a vast majority of our water is salt water i.e., undrinkable. But scientists have been working on our water problem for some time, and may have invented a solution.

Researchers have discovered an effective and cost-efficient method of filtering salt from seawater.

Here’s how it works: high volumes of water pass through  a nanometer-thick sheet of molybdenum disulphine (MoS2) with nanopores—miniscule holes that work to block salt and other contaminants. MoS2 is considered the most efficient thin-film membrane that can filter up to 70% more water than graphene.

Image credit: Mohammad Heiranian/University of Illinois

“Finding materials for efficient desalination has been a big issue, and I think this work lays the foundation for next-generation materials,” said Illinois Professor, Narayana Aluru who heads the research for the project. “These materials are efficient in terms of energy usage and fouling, which are issues that have plagued desalination technology for a long time.”

Clear Solution

“Even though we have a lot of water on this planet, there is very little that is drinkable,” adds Aluru. “If we could find a low-cost, efficient way to purify sea water, we would be making good strides in solving the water crisis.”

MoS2 and nanopores may prove to be the solution; and this new advancement in desalination offers huge strides by way of giving underserved nations access to potable water and combat drought. The new method is not only efficient, it is also significantly less expensive.

Researchers are now looking into finding manufacturing partners who can apply the technique on an industrial scale. 


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