Even in the modern world, regular access to drinking water can be a problem in some areas of the globe. Statistics show that in 2017, one in ten people currently don’t have access to safe water. New research has found that the super material graphene could be the answer to providing more fresh water.
The carbon allotrope is famed for its strength and electrical connectivity. Study from the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester has found that its membranes are capable of acting like a sieve to filter out salt from salt water, creating a constant source of fresh water. Graphene has already been proved to have the ability to filter out nanoparticles but now research has revealed that it can separate common salts as well. The way this amazing breakthrough works is like this. When graphene-oxide membranes are immersed in water they swell up slightly. Small salts are able to flow through the material along with the water but larger molecules are prevented from doing so. Previously, this stopped the common salts, which are found in sea water, to be filtered out, but not now. A method ahs been devised that can manage and control the membrane’s pore sizes so it doesn’t swell and is able to sieve out common salts to create drinkable fresh water. This breakthrough means graphene has the potential to combat water shortages. It will be especially useful in areas that do not have the funds or the space to construct desalination plants. This really could be a game changer.
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