Cheaper And More Effective Seawater Desalination

The availability of water for drinking and crop irrigation is one of the most basic requirements for maintaining and improving human health.About 70 percent of the Earth's surface is watercovered and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water.Desalination of ocean water is the main problem,however researchers at the University of Texas at Austin(UT)and the University of Marburg, Germany have created a simple and efficient way to desalinate ocean water.The new method is called “Electrochemically Mediated Seawater Desalination”, uses a small electronic chip filled with seawater. This chip is so efficient at removing salt from that water and yet needs only small power from store bought battery. The new plastic chip works by separating the salt from the water and directing it along a different path.Only 3.0 volts are required to power this separation. As saltwater passes through the chip, a small amount of voltage is applied which neutralizes some of the “chloride ions”, in the salt water. This creates an “ion depletion zone” which increases the amount of electricity in that spot.Salt separates from the water, when it approaches this depletion zone. The salt is directed to one channel and the fresh water to another. Currently,the chip is very small and the team has only been able to achieve a 25 percent desalination rate during the tests. The team is confident to achieve 99 percent desalination. This research is a great service to 780 million people lacking access to an improved source of water.

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