BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A team of scientists is currently working on developing a new desalinization process, one that is both faster and cheaper and based on carbon nanotubes. This would also be a beneficial method on a planet that is 70 percent water, but with only some 0.007 of it also being safe for drinking.
Desalinization is the process of extracting salt from seawater. Drinking this latter just as it is, in significant quantities, can lead to numerous health problems, including, among others, dehydration and death.
The New Desalinization Process is Based on Carbon Nanotubes
This new research is being carried out by Northeastern scientists. These reported their discovery of a new way of desalinizing water, one that is based and makes use of carbon nanotubes.
According to the team, when of a certain size, these nanotubes can act as the perfect filter for removing salt. This is both the smallest and most abundant ‘contaminant’ which can be naturally found in water.
Carbon nanotubes are about a nanometer in diameter, some 50,000 times smaller than a human hair. Thanks to its minuscule size, this tube only allows one water molecule to pass through at a time. This helps disrupt the chemical bonds which usually make desalinization such a tricky process.
By ‘breaking’ the hydrogen bonds, H2O can be pushed through the carbon nanotubes at an accelerated rate without it bulking. Besides this, the tubes also have a negative charge. This means that they reject anything with the same electric charge, in this case, the salt’s negative ions and other unwanted particles as well.
“While salt has a hard time passing through because of the charge, water is a neutral molecule and passes through easily,” pointed out Meni Wanunu, a study co-author and Northeastern associate professor of physics.
This new research was carried out in collaboration with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California scientists. Their results point to a novel method of desalinization, one which could lead to some major changes in water security. The study indicates that carbon tubes may be the best existing desalinization process, be it natural or human-made.
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