A team of researchers from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom have formulated a graphene-based sieve that can help in separating salt from sea water using less energy and provide clean drinking water to millions of people over the globe. Graphene oxide is an oxidized form of the material that is much easier and cheaper to produce in large quantities than the typical graphene. Graphene comprises a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Graphene consists of a single layer of carbon atoms that are arranged in a hexagonal lattice. This form of material could prove promising for future applications due to its extraordinary tensile strength and electrical applications.
In a previous research made, scientists discovered that the membranes when immersed in water undergo swelling making the pores enlarge that allows salt to pass through. To eliminate this problem, Rahul Nair with his team members coated the membrane with epoxy resin from both the sides. These epoxy resins are too small that salt and water molecules cannot bypass. He said in a statement from the University, “The discovery made is a hugely significant step which will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology.”
Ram Devanathan of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory said, still more efforts have to be taken to check the strength of the barriers and prolonged contact with sea water and to ensure whether the membrane is resistant “fouling” by organics, salt and biological material or not.
It seems that by 2025, 14% of the world’s population will face scarcity of water. As this technology sounds effective and effects of change in climate results in a reduction of water supply to urban areas, other modern and wealthy countries are also planning to implement this desalination technique. The selective separation of water molecules from ions by physical restriction of interlayer spacing opens the door to the synthesis of inexpensive membranes for desalination.