Nano Bugle

A window into applied science supported by INL

Converting sea water into fresh water with Nanotechnology

The most common desalination technology, known as reverse osmosis, involves applying pressure to seawater to force salt ions through a membrane. Although portable reverse-osmosis devices are available, most work slowly and have trouble filtering out water pollutants.

Jongyoon Han from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his team had developed another technology: ion channel polarization (ICP) and reported their findings online in Nature Nanotechnology.

To test if ICP could remove salt and other charged contaminants in water, such as bacteria and certain pollutants, they added blood cells to seawater and tagged them with fluorescent dye.

Then, they forced saltwater to pass through the ion-repulsion area. On one side was a very salty, fluorescent mixture, and on the other side was clean water.

However there is still need to put the water through a charcoal filter to eliminate neutral materials, such as hydrocarbons, from industrial pollution.

It should be necessary to integrate around 1600 nano-units onto a 20-centimeter wafer to generate about 300 milliliters of water per minute.

Credit: Mark A. Shannon, Nature Nanotechnology, 5; (inset) Sung Jae Kim/MIT
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June 15, 2010 - Posted by | Nano News

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