Today’s Solutions: February 06, 2023

Clean drinking water is already in short supply in many places around the world, but the situation is only expected to get worse with climate change. Figuring out ways to desalinate brackish water or seawater in an efficient and scalable way is key to mitigating the global water crisis. A breakthrough from the University of Tokyo has brought us a step closer to a feasible solution for clean drinking water.

Teflon-inspired desalination membrane

The new invention involves a desalination membrane that the developers claim is faster and much more energy-efficient than existing technologies. The membrane consists of a series of nanoscale tubes coated with a Teflon-like material that repels salts while allowing water to flow through in a frictionless manner, reports New Atlas.

While we’ve previously written about systems using membranes to filter out salts and impurities, the new tech is reportedly superior for a few reasons. Most of it has to do with the fact that it uses fluorine — a hydrophobic material that gives Teflon its sought-after non-stick properties. Fluorine is also often used to coat the pipes to allow water to flow smoothly. And, just as a side note, fluorine is not the culprit material responsible for the health concerns associated with Teflon.

Using fluorine nanorings to filter out salt and impurities

As part of the new study, the scientists created a membrane with fluorine nanorings between 0.9 and 1.9 nanometers wide. They then flowed seawater through the membrane, keeping track of the number of chlorine ions (a major component of salt) on both sides of the membrane. The team found that the fluorine rings filtered the water quicker and more effectively, using both less energy and pressure compared to other desalination techniques.

“It was very exciting to see the results firsthand,” said study lead author Yoshimitsu Itoh. “The smaller of our test channels perfectly rejected incoming salt molecules, and the larger channels too were still an improvement over other desalination techniques and even cutting-edge carbon nanotube filters. The real surprise to me was how fast the process occurred. Our sample worked around several thousand times faster than typical industrial devices, and around 2,400 times faster than experimental carbon nanotube-based desalination devices.”

The team now plans to figure out ways to further decrease the amount of energy required to make the fluorine-based membrane, to eventually make membranes that are 3.3-ft wide.

Source study: ScienceUltrafast water permeation through nanochannels with a densely fluorous interior surface

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

What is NEAT and why is it more effective for weight loss than exercise?

"Non-exercise activity thermogenesis," also known as NEAT, is a fancy term for the energy you expend during the day whenever you’re not sleeping, eating, or ...

Read More

These are the 20 best cities world-wide for mental wellbeing

Thanks to modern technology, the world, though still so vast, has for many become smaller. Thanks to these advances, you can wake up in ...

Read More

This gigantic vertical greenhouse uses 100% natural light

Vertical farming is an amazing solution that allows us to grow fresh produce using a fraction of the water and land that traditional agriculture ...

Read More

The many benefits of cultivating intergenerational friendships

Humans tend to gravitate towards or become friends with people our age due to our experiences in school and work. As we age together ...

Read More