Researchers Discover A Cheaper, Faster Way To Turn Seawater Into Drinking Water


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Desalinating water is a viable solution for creating clean drinking water in areas where seawater is the only thing readily available. Problem is, it’s a complicated process that requires a large investment in infrastructure, apart from using up a huge amount of electricity. A group of researchers believe they may have found a cheaper, simpler, and even ecologically-friendlier way of doing things.

In a paper written by a team from the University of Alexandria, researchers Mona Naim, Mahmoud Elewa, Ahmed El-Shafei and Abeer Moneer announced a new method of purifying seawater that uses equipment that can be manufactured cheaply and simply. It also doesn’t rely on electricity, so even non-powered communities can use it to develop their own desalinating systems.

The big breakthrough in the research is the invention of a new salt-attracting membrane that, when embedded with cellulose acetate powder, can be used to separate the solid and liquid particles in seawater, binding the salt particles as they go through. The separated liquid is then heated until it vaporizes, condensed to get rid of small impurities, and then collected as clean drinking water.

Those familiar with the sciences may recognize the process as pervaporation, a long-established method of separating liquids and solids. In the past, pervaporation has not been a viable option for desalination since the membranes used to initially separate solids and liquids were expensive and complicated to produce. The team believes the new membrane they developed changes that, since it can be produced quickly at very affordable costs.

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6 Responses

  1. rudy

    So you still have to distill the water? And this is better than just distilling it without the special membrane because….?

    • Anthony

      Yep. Got to that bit of the article about distilling and thought about the part earlier in the article about using huge amounts of electricity…. Oh well…back to the drawing board…

  2. Agnes A

    That’s a cool invention. Turning Seawater into drinking water! This will help a lot people and it’s a big break through as well.

  3. Tim

    If you spend a lot of the time on the water like I do, then you can relate to the frustration when you haven’t brought enough water with you and you are surrounded by water that you aren’t able to drink. Whenever I hear about cheaper and more environmentally safe ways to get anything done, I’m all for it. My family taught me since a small age the importance of saving water, electricity, etc because to conserve the planet for people who will come after us. I find it fascinating that there is finally a way to create safe drinking water for people who may not have easy access to it AND without the need of electricity. This is going to change the world guys!


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