Seventy percent of the earth is covered by water, but 97% of that water is salt water and not drinkable. What if you could turn some of that salt water into drinkable non salty water for developing countries?
According to a March 2015 article in the MIT Technology Review, 700 million people don’t have access to clean water. By 2025, in just 10 years, researchers expect that number to be 1.8 billion.
Researchers at Alexandria University in Egypt say they’ve created a new desalination technology that’s low cost, made in a lab with local materials and turns salty water into drinkable water in minutes.
There’s desalination technology out there today for large-scale processing, but it’s expensive. The largest, based on reverse-osmosis technology, is in Israel and was commissioned by the Israeli government at a cost of $500 million. It’s expensive because it uses a lot of electricity process the water through polymer membranes which reduce the particles in the water.
The research out of Alexandria University is based on a technique called pervaporation which filters the water through synthetic membranes to remove large particles in the water first. Then, the water is heated until it evaporates. To remove the small particles, the water is condensed to yield clean, drinkable water.
There are two reasons why this technique is a viable solution for developing countries needing clean, drinkable water. First, the whole process doesn’t require electricity. This makes it an inexpensive and reliable option for locations that don’t have a consistent power supply.
Second, using local materials abundant in developing countries makes it easier for those communities to create a new water source but can’t afford the reverse osmosis technique.
“The technology implemented in the study is much better than reverse osmosis, the technology currently used in Egypt and most of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa,” said Helmy El-Zanfaly, a professor of water contamination at Egypt’s National Research Center. ”It can effectively desalinate water with high concentration of salt like that of the Red Sea, where desalination costs more and yields less.”
The researchers say this new technique can also be used with different types of contamination such as sewage and dirt. The research was published in Water Science and Technology in August 2015.
source: forbes.com by Jennifer Hicks