New Kind of Reverse Osmosis

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are developing a water desalination system using carbon nanotube-based membranes. The use of the carbon nanotubes in the membranes could reduce the cost of desalination by 75 percent, compared to reverse osmosis methods used today.

The carbon nanotubes used by the researchers are sheets of carbon atoms rolled so tightly that only seven water molecules can fit across their diameter. Their small size makes them a good source for separating molecules. The nanopores also reduce the amount of pressure needed to force water through the membrane As a result, there are savings in energy costs when compared to reverse osmosis using conventional membranes.

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