Graphene once again proves that it is quite possibly the most miraculous material known to man, this time by making saltwater drinkable. Graphene, previously known for promising blazingly fast processors, making super-strong materials, revolutionizing solar cell production, and drastically increasing battery capacity (not to mention its anti-bacterial benefits), can now help desalinate seawater. Silicon has never felt like such an underachiever.
The process was developed by a group of MIT researchers who realized that graphene allowed for the creation of an incredibly precise sieve. Basically, the regular atomic structure of graphene means that you can create holes of any size, for example the size of a single molecule of water.
Salt molecules are a little larger than water molecules, so that means that only the water can go through the holes. Basically MIT developed a process that lets them turn on the saltwater tap and get clean water on one side, and salt on the other.
this in itself is nothing new. Reverse osmosis like this has been demonstrated before, but using significantly more bulky equipment and at an efficiency level an order of magnitude or three lower, which, as Gizmodo notes, means saltwater can be desalinated 1,000 times faster. And it is without any energy expenditure at all.
Needless to say, this could be a game changer for impoverished countries around the world. Fresh water is a rare good, but salt water isn’t. There is more than enough salt water to sate everyone on this planet many times over.
As for Graphene? Well, I have a feeling that researchers will continue to find innovative new uses for at regular atomic structure and extreme flexibility of it. It just goes to show, when you have an easily understandable and flexible tool, you can bend it to almost any task.