Drinking water: Scientists discover how to make saltwater drinkable using sunlight only

By | October 15, 2020

Researchers in Australia have successfully transformed brackish and seawater into safe and potable water. It took them less than 30 minutes to materialize this wonder. This was possible by using metal-organic structures (MOFs) and sunlight.

This discovery will bring major changes around the world and could provide millions of people with drinking water.

 The researchers were able to filter out harmful particles and generate 139.5 liters of clean water per kilogram of MOF per day.

 Moreover, they also accomplished this task in a more energy-efficient way compared to the current desalination practices.

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More details about how to make salt water drinkable

Metalorganic structures are a class of compounds. These compounds consist of metal ions that form crystalline material. This material has the largest surface area of ​​any known material.

A good quality of drinking water should have a total dissolved solid (TDS) of less than 600 parts per million (ppm).

Nonetheless, this team was able to realize a TDS of less than 500 ppm within half an hour. And this, in addition to regenerating the MOF for reuse in four minutes under sunlight.

This work opened a new direction for the design of stimulus-sensitive materials for desalination and water purification.

“Desalination has been used to address the growing scarcity of water globally. Due to the availability of brackish water and seawater, and because desalination processes are reliable. The treated water can be integrated into existing aquatic systems with minimal health risks.” This was highlighted by the Lead author, Professor Huanting Wang from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne.

However, the process of thermal desalination is energy-intensive. Moreover, other technologies, such as reverse osmosis, have several drawbacks.

This includes high energy consumption and the use of chemicals in cleaning and dechlorinating membranes.

“Sunlight is the most abundant and renewable source of energy on Earth. Our development of a new desalination process using sunlight for regeneration provides a desalination solution that saves energy and is environmentally sustainable. “

As a reminder, over 780 million people around the world do not have access to a proper drinking water service.

Statistics shows that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-scarce areas.

By 2050, the population will hit 10 billion and 10.9 billion by the year 2100.

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Water shortage in South Africa

Between 2017 and 2018, South Africa experienced a severe water shortage. The Western Cape region, most notably affecting the city of Cape Town was the most affected.

At that time, the water levels rose only from 15 to 30 percent of the dam’s total capacity.

To face this scarcity, the government had put major water restrictions in an attempt to curb water use.

This measure was efficient in reducing around 500 million liters per day in March 2018.

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