New Research May Make Desalination More Efficient and Affordable

A research team at MIT may have found a solution to making desalination a much more affordable and efficient process by using new filters make from graphene.

As the drought across California continues to wreak havoc, desalination has become high on the state’s priority list. Though the process isn’t fine-tuned just yet and much more research needs to be done before we may be seeing reclaimed seawater used as clean water. Jeffrey Grossman, a professor at MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE), began researching how different and new materials might be the answer to making the cost of desalination much more affordable.

"A billion people around the world lack regular access to clean water, and that's expected to more than double in the next 25 years," said Grossman. "Desalinated water costs five to 10 times more than regular municipal water, yet we're not investing nearly enough money into research. If we don't have clean energy we're in serious trouble, but if we don't have water we die."

During the research, Grossman’s lab may have found a solution to those desalination problems. By using new filters that have been made from graphene (created by slicing off an atom-thick layer of graphite), the energy efficiency of desalination plants was improved, as well as reducing other costs.

The Grossman Group is currently working on three different techniques to better obtain the graphene by using chemical and thermal energy. The result produces graphene oxide, which is desirable for filters. According to Grossman, these filters could make construction plants smaller and cheaper. For more information on this process, please click here.