Emilia Sanz-Rios: Desalinization Membrane

Water you waiting for?

97.5% of the world’s water is salt water, and an estimated 2.5 billion people lack access to water sanitation. With 40% of the population living within 100 kilometers of the ocean, it seems obvious that the ocean be taken advantage of, however the high concentration of salts, dangerous chemicals, and bacteria in our oceans provide us with poor drinking water. Contaminated water causes illnesses including malaria, typhoid, dysentery, and cholera. There are many water desalination techniques existing, however these methods cost a lot of energy, money, and resources to run and maintain.

Graphene, an allotrope of carbon, has many attractive properties such as its strength, high electrical conductivity, and its mechanical flexibility. It is also an abundant substance and relatively cheap to use. Recently, engineers have been looking to use graphene in a wide variety of areas ranging from clothing, cell phones and even spaceships. As scientists have looked further into graphene, it has been discovered that graphene membranes can be the most effective filtration-system for the desalination of water. The pores are just large enough to allow the H2O molecule through and loose hydrogen atoms.

With effective engineering, this can be the solution for many fresh-water deprived areas such as the Mediterranean, coasts of Africa, Madagascar, the Carribean, and so much more. Through the course of the year we will study graphene membranes and their properties along with any updates of the science community of their advancements. We will use this research to develop a prototype that would use graphene membranes to effectively filter water for communities in need of clean water.

Other Desalinization Membrane Lab Team Members: Lorelei McCampbell.

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