Cheers! Here’s to a Refreshing Glass of Sea Water

By: | September 25th, 2013

Despite the fact that 75% of the Earth is covered with water, the need for safe & clean drinking water is expanding every day and the World is struggling to keep up with the demand for water. New technology could change all of that, though, and have us filling our glasses with water from the ocean.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and the University of Marburg in Germany have done a remarkable job of developing a method to desalinate ocean water. The team has developed a very simple method to desalinate the water using a small electrical field.

To achieve desalination, they developed a small plastic chip, known as a Water Chip and performed the process on a micro scale. Unlike other conventional methods, such as reverse osmosis, this new method is much more energy-efficient.

The water chip works by separating the salt from the water and directing it along a different path. For desalination, a small amount of voltage is applied and the saltwater is passed through the chip. As saltwater passes through the chip, an embedded electrode neutralizes some of the chloride ions in saltwater to create an “ion depletion zone”. Salt is then separated from the water as it approaches this depletion zone, sending salts into one branch and the desalinated water in to the other branch.

This method needs to be refined and scaled up and if they succeed at that, it will no doubt be a revolutionary development to provide fresh water on a massive scale.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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