This Process Turns Seawater into Drinking Water

Australian innovation desalinates water in just 30 minutes.

Sep 11, 2020

(Juan Ci / Shutterstock.com)

Water is vital for humans, animals, and plants alike;  clean water makes life possible.  As such a valuable and essential resource, every new innovation that provides the world with drinking water deserves to be celebrated.

According to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, one in three people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. Desalination may be the only way to rectify that.

New research from Monash University in Melbourne Australia published in Nature Sustainability shows an innovative way to make seawater fresh enough to drink by using a metal-organic framework (MOF), a material that easily filters pollutants out of seawater. This process uses much less energy than existing desalination methods and works in just 30 minutes.

According to the university press release, MOF is so porous and has such a high surface area, a single teaspoon of the material could cover a football field. This makes it ideal for capturing and storing great amounts of molecules, creating a groundbreaking water filter.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), good-quality drinking water needs to have a total dissolved solid (TDS) of less than 600 parts per million (mg/liter), yet the Australian researchers were able to achieve a TDS of under 500 parts per million. And the benefits don’t end here. The MOF can be regenerated for reuse in just four minutes by releasing the trapped salts using sunlight

And while there are other desalination alternatives, this one harnesses the sun, the most abundant and renewable source of energy on earth according to the lead author of the study Huanting Wang from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University.

“Our development of a new adsorbent-based desalination process through the use of sunlight for regeneration provides an energy-efficient and environmentally-sustainable solution for desalination,” Wang said in the press release.

The innovation is widely celebrated for several reasons. On the one hand, it offers a promising solution to the growing challenge of water scarcity by providing much-needed help to people all over the world. 

In addition, it creates a water purification and desalination process that is sustainable and energy efficient. Current desalination systems use more energy and chemicals, thus taking a toll on the environment.

Promising, sustainable, and time-saving, this breakthrough discovery could transform the way people produce and consume water. It shows promise in providing universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water.

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DAIANA BROJT, CONTRIBUTOR
With a love for fashion, technology, self-development, nature and communication, Daiana is a freelance writer. She is the creator of an online community platform dedicated to providing inspiration and information on trends, developments and positive impact initiatives in the world of Sustainable Fashion.