The lack of drinkable freshwater on earth has been a huge issue for a long time. Only a small fraction of the water on earth, less than 1% to be exact, is drinkable, and over the past few years, there has been a scientific race to find a solution that not only creates drinking water but is also inexpensive, easy, and environmentally friendly.
After years of research and testing, one group may have found a viable solution.
Mona Naim, Mahmoud Elewa, Ahmed El-Naggar, and Abeer Moneer, a team from Alexandria University, have written a paper introducing a new method of purifying salt water from the ocean using a special membrane that is relatively cheap and easy to produce.
“The membrane we fabricated can easily be made in any laboratory using cheap ingredients, which makes it an excellent option for developing countries,” says Ahmed El-Shafei, a professor at the university.
The process used in this method is much simpler than other desalination techniques, which makes it very appealing. The team’s biggest breakthrough is creating a brand new, salt-attracting membrane which can separate the solids and liquids in seawater when embedded with a powder called cellulose acetate. After going through the membrane, the now saltless liquid is put through a process called pervaporation, in which it is heated until it becomes a vapor, condensed to remove any impurities, and them collected to be drinking water.
Because the process is so simple and inexpensive, it can be used in developing nations, where the most prominent water source is the ocean. It also does not rely heavily on electricity, so undeveloped third-world countries can use the technology to improve the health of their communities.
If implemented, who knows where this technology could take us? It will help to stop the water crisis that our world is facing today, and in the future, may even prevent wars fought over water and widespread death from dehydration. Regardless of its future impact, this technology will help a lot of people, which is cause enough for it to be put into effect now.