Lockheed Martin Corp, a company constructing jet fighters and missiles for the Pentagon, has come up with a new, economic method to remove salt from seawater. Before the foreshadowed global water crisis this is good news, even if they come from a weapon manufacturer.
The method is simple. Membranes of graphene (pure carbon) filter the seawater, producing clean, drinkable water with minimum cost and energy expenditure. The holes on the membranes are one nanometer wide (1nm = 1×10-9m), allowing the water pass through but blocking the salt molecules. These membranes are so thin, only one atom in thickness, that it takes minimum energy to push the seawater through.
As John Stetson, the chief engineer of the project, explained, these membranes are 500 times thinner and a thousand times stronger than the best commercial filters available. On the other hand, they only need one hundredth of the energy and pressure required to filter salt than conventional methods.
Such a technique could save millions of dollars to underdeveloped countries suffering from water shortage and offer a promising solution to the increasing global water crisis. As the report mentioned, “Between now and 2040, fresh water availability will not keep up with demand and water problems will hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate electricity.”