Nanofiber membranes can help solve the drinking water crisis


South Korean scientists claim the new Desalination Technology makes sea water suitable for drinking within minutes. The researchers used a membrane distillation process that achieved a salt rejection rate of 99.9% within a month. They said that if commercialized, the solution will help alleviate the drinking water crisis exacerbated by climate change.more than 3 billion According to the United Nations, people all over the world are affected by water shortages, and the amount of fresh water available per person has decreased by one-fifth in the past two decades.

This new study details a method of using nanofiber membranes as salt filters to purify seawater. Although scientists have used membrane distillation in the past, they continue to encounter huge obstacles that hinder this process. If the membrane becomes too wet or flooded, it can no longer repel salt. Needless to say, this is a time-consuming process that forces scientists to either wait for the membrane to dry or come up with other solutions, such as using pressurized air to release trapped water from its pores.

To overcome this challenge, the Korean team turned to a nanotechnology called electrospinning to manufacture their three-dimensional membranes. In scientific terms, they use polyvinylidene fluoride-co-hexafluoropropylene as the core and silica aerogel mixed with low-concentration polymers as the sheath to make a composite membrane with a super-hydrophobic surface. Essentially, this creates a filter with higher surface roughness and lower thermal conductivity, allowing it to desalinate seawater for up to 30 days.The full report is published in Journal of Membrane Science.

“Coaxial electrospun nanofiber membranes have strong potential for processing seawater solutions without wetting problems, and may be suitable for real-scale membrane distillation applications,” said Dr. Yunchul Woo, a materials scientist at the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering . Construction technology said. He added that the membrane may be suitable for “pilot-scale and actual-scale membrane distillation applications.”

At present, the main method of purifying seawater is through reverse osmosis at approximately 20,000 Desalination plants around the world.But these facilities require a lot of electricity to operate, and they also generate concentrated brine As waste, it is usually dumped in the sea. Therefore, it is no wonder that scientists are exploring new solutions that will not backfire.

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