Graphene To The Rescue Again! This Time It’s Water Desalination!

Water desalination is complicated, energy intensive, and expensive. However, no matter the obstacles, it is becoming obvious that it is going to be needed in the future, and perhaps the not too distant future at that. We’ve seen quite a few approaches to overcoming the obstacles, with the energy consumption being the main focus of these efforts by making them run on solar, or trying to use waves to generate power for the plants themselves. We’ve also seen more than a few efforts to make them more pleasant to look at, so that they aren’t huge eye sores just off of our coastlines. On top of these issues there is also the fact that most desalination efforts require the heating of water in order to form vapor to leave the salts behind and provide fresh drinking water. Polymer sieves filter out salts, but the process is very slow, for a variety of reasons, which still keeps costs high.
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Enter graphene along with all its other uses and potential, a graphene oxide sieve, combined with polymers to keep them from swelling when immersed in water, is much faster, efficient, and it may be the future of desalination as fresh water becomes harder and harder come by. Single graphene sheets are still fairly expensive to produce, but a graphene oxide based membrane is a fraction of the cost, and it is already showing promising results in the lab. The graphene oxide membranes are able to fashioned into sieves that contain precise filtration holes allowing for the passage of water molecules, but not of any of the other solids dissolved in the water. This ability to be so precise means that pure water can pass through at a much faster rate, providing larger quantities of pure water without some of the drawbacks of standard desalination efforts. These could be applied on a variety of scales, which means that for the average off grid-er or survivalist, they may find their way into water filtration systems that could be essential for off grid living as well.