Researchers at the University of Manchester have developed a graphene sieve that could change the way saltwater is filtered.
The scientists involved in the research focused their work on graphene-oxide membranes, which have long shown potential as a filtration system. But until now they were unable to filter common salts from water.
However, this latest research has found a way to make the holes – or pores – in the graphene membranes small enough to filter out salts, and thereby make seawater safe to drink.
Professor Rahul Raveendran Nair, who worked on the project at the university, commented: “Realisation of scalable membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale is a significant step forward.”
The team has found a way to precisely control the size of the graphene membrane’s pores, which has applications beyond just filtering saltwater.
Jijo Abraham, one of the lead authors on the study, explained that having the ability to control the pore size means that these membranes could be created to filter ions according to their size.
This development in water filtration technology could be particularly significant given that the UN expects global water demand from manufacturing to increase by 400 per cent by the middle of this century.
In addition, the organisation’s World Water Development Report 2015 also highlighted the fact that 748 million people still don’t have access to an improved water source for drinking.
Although the development of a graphene membrane filter might be some way off from a commercial perspective, there are other water treatment filters available. Talk to us about what’s on offer.