Sunlight could solve drinking water's biggest problem in 30 minutes

Published by INVERSE.COM

Summary generated on August 11, 2020

    Clean drinking water is one of life's essentials.

    Safe drinking water isn't a reality for over 2 billion people across the world.

    Scientists have been working to solve this problem for decades, and while some solutions have found success in effectively cleaning water, those energy-heavy solutions can be hard to implement in communities without a stable electric grid.

    Using a super porous material to suck up salt from brackish, salty water, researchers were able to sustainably create nearly 40 gallons of clean drinking water per single kilogram of a metal material.

    This drinking water was even cleaner than WHO's official guidelines.

    After testing this material on both natural saltwater and synthetic saltwater, they found that the compound was able to absorb enough water in 30 minutes to create nearly 40 gallons of fresh drinking water per single kilogram of the material.

    When analyzing the resultant water, the researchers measured its total dissolved solids to be less than 500 parts per million - a standard even above that recommended by WHO, which categorizes clean drinking water as having TDS no greater than 600 parts per million.

    "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."

    What's next - In addition to helping provide a sustainable solution to creating clean drinking water for communities with poor energy infrastructure, the researchers also say that this approach could be repurposed in the future for the absorption of other compounds and minerals, creating a sustainable solution for mineral mining as well.

    Under dark conditions, the zwitterionic isomer quickly adsorbs multiple cations and anions from water within 30 minutes, with high ion adsorption loadings of up to 2.88 mmol gāˆ’1 of NaCl.