Australian-led researchers on Saturday said they have developed a new ultrathin porous membrane that completely separates potentially harmful ions such as lead and mercury from water, pointing to crucial clean drinking supplies for people globally through purification and desalination processes.
The researchers, led by Monash University and Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization, developed the molecular sieve membrane using 2D nanosheets and “demonstrated their near perfection as building materials for membranes in ion separation from water”, according to a university statement.
The nanosheets “can help remove harmful carcinogens from the atmosphere by creating highly porous membranes to facilitate the separation processes of gases and organic solvents, such as paint.”
“In this world-first study, we were able to … create a membrane that is permeable to water while achieving maximum porosity with nearly 100 percent rejection of ions. This study shows promise for the future application of this membrane to other filtration processes, such as gas separation,” research study leader Xiwang Zhang said. The latest findings were published in academic journal Science Advances.
One in three people globally still did not have access to safe drinking water and about 2.2 billion people around the world did not have safely managed drinking water services as of June 2019, according to a report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
The membrane innovation “could enhance the desalination process and transform the dirtiest water into something potable for millions of people across the world,” according to Monash university.
“The membrane performed steadily for more than 750 hours using limited energy. It could also be manufactured on a global scale, pending further testing.”