Scientists have developed a new and sustainable method for removing salt and metal ions from water. This means that the about two billion people worldwide without adequate access to drinking water could in the near future be supplied by the saltwater filtered using this new process. As phys.org reports: the discovery was made during a joint study by the University of Texas at Austin and Monash University. This is a giant breakthrough seeing as there are approximately billions of people living without access to clean drinking water. With saltwater being in abundance in most places around the world scientists have long searched for a way to purify saltwater for drinking. Though there have been several methods developed to purify seawater and saltwater from other sources; not until now has there been a process developed that can do this efficiently and without using too much energy, and thus being too costly.
The researchers involved in the project include Dr Huacheng Zhang, Professor Huanting Wang, and Associate Professor Zhe Liu from the University of Monash, and Dr Anita Hill, and Professor Benny Freeman from The University of Texas at Austin.
The process is carried out with a material called metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs. This amazing material “has the largest internal surface area of any known substance,” and acts as a sponge. These spongy crystals can then be used to filter salt out of seawater by engineering the material for the specific application.
As of right now most of the worlds seawater is filtered through a process called reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis is a process in which a material similar to MOFs is used to remove membranes that are harmful for consumption. The MOFs however would be able to do this at a much more efficient rate. The applications for such a discovery would be potentially lifesaving for billions of people around the globe. This research is totally revolutionary when it comes to water desalination and water purification.