Sep 30, 2020

Australian Researchers Use Sunlight to Purify Water

Researchers are purifying water by using sunlight

sunlight water purification

Scientists in Australia are transforming brackish water and seawater into safe, clean drinking water using metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and sunlight.

The process creates the clean drinking water in approximately 30 minutes, reported Forbes.

The researchers were able to filter harmful particles from water and generate 139.5L of clean water per kilogram of MOF per day. 

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), good quality drinking water should have a total dissolved solid (TDS) of less than 600 parts per million (ppm). The team of researchers were able to achieve a TDS of less than 500 ppm in 30 minutes and regenerate the MOF for reuse in four minutes under sunlight, reported Forbes.

Lead author Professor Huanting Wang from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, said the research opened up a new direction for designing stimuli-responsive materials for energy-efficient and sustainable desalination and water purification.

“Desalination has been used to address escalating water shortages globally. Due to the availability of brackish water and seawater, and because desalination processes are reliable, treated water can be integrated within existing aquatic systems with minimal health risks,” said Professor Wang. “But, thermal desalination processes by evaporation are energy-intensive, and other technologies, such as reverse osmosis, have a number of drawbacks, including high energy consumption and chemical usage in membrane cleaning and dechlorination.”

According to Professor Wang, this highlights the durability and sustainability of using the MOF for future clean water solutions. Research by the WHO reveals that more than 780 million people worldwide lack even a basic drinking water service. 

“Our work provides an exciting new route for the design of functional materials for using solar energy to reduce the energy demand and improve the sustainability of water desalination,” added Professor Wang. "These sunlight-responsive MOFs can potentially be further functionalized for low-energy and environmentally-friendly means of extracting minerals for sustainable mining and other related applications."

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