Making dirty water drinkable

With clean water becoming increasingly scarce around the world, ways to purify dirty water become urgent. Now we have a new one that’s cheap, simple and quick.

The process, created by scientists at Washington University, uses a two-layer foam that floats on water. The bottom layer is cellulose produced by bacteria; the top sheet is the same cellulose integrated with graphene oxide, which is light, strong and conducts heat and light with ease.

When a sheet of the foam is floated on dirty water, the bottom layer of cellulose wicks water to the top sheet. The top layer’s cellulose accepts and holds the water while the graphene oxide absorbs light from the sun and heats up – enough to evaporate the water and leave the impurities behind. The purified water vapor then can be harvested.

The bottom layer also insulates the water below from the heat above, concentrating the heat efficiently in the top layer.

TRENDPOST: In recent days, even more evidence has surfaced demonstrating just how dirty our water has become. The journal of Enviornmental Science and Technology Letters published a study that concluded millions of Americans are likley drinking water with high levels of industrial chemicals.

It’s a worldwide trend. Countries across the globe struggle to produce and deliver safe water.

As such, developments like the progess being made with graphene oxide are worth noting. It is cheap to make, bacteria can produce massive amounts of cellulose, and their integrated water-purification system runs on sunshine. The inexpensive foam can be used anywhere to reduce water-borne illnesses as well as increase water supplies. Initial sites will be in urban and rural areas of the developing world.

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