It has widely been reported that the next major issue to spark global conflict in today’s age will be the availability of clean drinking water. With our global population on the rise, this issue has only been compounding itself over the years. However, now, a UK based team has developed a way to remove salt from seawater using graphene-based sieves and thereby purify it to its drinkable form. This development could aid millions of people across the world by giving them access to clean, drinkable water.
As mentioned by the scientists who discovered this technology, the promising graphene-based oxide sieve is highly efficient at filtering the salt component of the seawater. They are now testing their technology against desalination membranes to prove its efficacy. This test is paramount to the widespread success of this innovation, because it has been previously deemed impossible to find palpable scale into the manufacturing of graphene-based technological barriers for filtration.
Isolated and characterized by a University of Manchester-led team in 2004, graphene comprises a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Its unusual properties, such as extraordinary tensile strength and electrical conductivity, have earmarked it as one of the most promising materials for future applications- these were the showings of the team led by Dr. Rahul Nair.
It should also be reported that he told BBC News: "As an ink or solution, we can compose it on a substrate or porous material. Then we can use it as a membrane. In terms of scalability and the cost of the material, graphene oxide has a potential advantage over single-layered graphene." Of the single-layer graphene he added: "To make it permeable, you need to drill small holes in the membrane. But if the hole size is larger than one nanometer, the salts go through that hole. You have to make a membrane with a very uniform less-than-one-nanometer hole size to make it useful for desalination. It is a really challenging job."
The lack of efficiency in this front that has plagued the world revolves around the high amounts of pressure that is required to remove the salt from the water. However, the technology developed by Dr. Nair’s team mitigated this issue by using a membrane that can separate salt better, and thereby eliminate the need for a highly pressurized environment. To give you context, Graphene was invented in the University of Manchester, way back in 2004, and even received the Nobel Prize in 2010. However, this groundbreaking discovery had been previously stifled in its applications and use i.e. until Dr. Nair and his team figured out a scalable adaptation of the discovery.
The United Nations have reported (in conservative terms) that 1.2 billion people or roughly 15% of the world’s population will find it unfathomably difficult to gain access to drinkable water by 2025; a truly frightening notion, given that water is one of the essentials of life. We wish Dr. Nair and his team all the best in their advancements, this truly is an innovation to keep an eye out for.
Source: business mag, XXl mag
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