Researchers develop material that converts salty water into drinkable water within seconds

Fareeha Arshad
Photo byPhoto by Patrick Pahlke on Unsplash

Scientists in Australia have developed a promising innovation using metal-organic framework compounds (MOFs) and sunlight to purify water in just 30 minutes, outperforming existing desalination techniques. The process is cost-effective, stable, and reusable and produces water that meets World Health Organization standards.

Initial testing indicates that approximately 139.5 litres (37 gallons) of clean water can be produced daily from a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of MOF material. After four minutes of sunlight exposure, the material releases all the salt ions absorbed from the water and can be reused. This new method offers several advantages over current desalination methods, such as reduced energy consumption and chemical usage.

The researchers developed a new MOF called PSP-MIL-53, which exhibited the desired properties for water purification. MOFs are highly porous materials that could be integrated into pipes and other water systems to provide clean drinking water.

Addressing the global water shortage is crucial, as approximately 785 million people worldwide cannot access clean drinking water within a 30-minute walk. With saline water constituting about 97% of the Earth’s water, finding solutions to make it safe for human use is essential.

Developing technologies like PSP-MIL-53 provides opportunities to tap into this vast resource. The researchers highlight the potential of MOFs to be further utilised for sustainable mining and other applications that require low-energy and environmentally-friendly processes.

While the practical implementation of the system is not yet specified, the research presents a promising approach alongside other methods being explored, such as ultraviolet light, graphene filters, hydrogels, and even extracting water from the air. The researchers emphasise that their work offers a new avenue for designing functional materials that utilise solar energy, reducing energy demand and enhancing the sustainability of water desalination.

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I am a scientist by profession and a historian by passion. I mostly write about history and science.

Texas State

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