Graphene and water treatment
Water is an invaluable resource and the intelligent use and maintenance of water supplies is one of the most important and crucial challenges that stand before mankind.
New technologies are constantly being sought to lower the cost and footprint of processes that make use of water resources, as potable water (as well as water for agriculture and industry) are always in desperate demand.
Much research is focused on graphene for different water treatment uses, and nanotechnology also has great potential for elimination of bacteria and other contaminants.
Among graphene’s host of remarkable traits, its hydrophobia is probably one of the traits most useful for water treatment. Graphene naturally repels water, but when narrow pores are made in it, rapid water permeation is allowed. This sparked ideas regarding the use of graphene for water filtration and desalination, especially once the technology for making these micro-pores has been achieved.
Graphene sheets (perforated with miniature holes) are studied as a method of water filtration, because they are able to let water molecules pass but block the passage of contaminants and substances. Graphene’s small weight and size can contribute to making a lightweight, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly generation of water filters and desalinators.
It has been discovered that thin membranes made from graphene oxide are impermeable to all gases and vapors, besides water, and further research revealed that an accurate mesh can be made to allow ultrafast separation of atomic species that are very similar in size - enabling super-efficient filtering.
This opens the door to the possibility of using seawater as a drinking water resource, in a fast and relatively simple way.