Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plasma-treated nano filters help purify world water supply

Date:
August 21, 2013
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
Access to safe drinking water is a step closer to being a reality for those in developing countries.

Cross-sectional image of the membrane.
Credit: Image courtesy of CSIRO Australia

Access to safe drinking water is a step closer to being a reality for those in developing countries, thanks to new research published today in Nature Communications.

The study paves the way for the next generation of portable water purification devices, which could provide relief to the 780 million people around the world who face every day without access to a clean water supply.

An international team of researchers -- led by Associate Professor Hui Ying Yang from Singapore University of Technology and Design -- showed that water purification membranes enhanced by plasma-treated carbon nanotubes are ideal for removing contaminants and brine from water.

The team included Dr Zhaojun Han and Professor Kostya (Ken) Ostrikov from CSIRO's world-leading Plasma Nanoscience Laboratories.

The study paves the way for the next generation of portable water purification devices, which could provide relief to the 780 million people around the world who face every day without access to a clean water supply.

According to Dr Han, these membranes could be integrated into portable water purification devices the size of a tea pot that would be rechargeable, inexpensive and more effective than many existing filtration methods. Contaminated water would go in one end, and clean drinkable water would come out the other.

"Small portable purification devices are increasingly recognised as the best way to meet the needs of clean water and sanitation in developing countries and in remote locations, minimising the risk of many serious diseases," Dr Han says.

"The large industrialised purification plants we see in other parts of the world are just not practical -- they consume a large amount of energy and have high labour costs, making them very expensive to run."

Dr Han acknowledges that some smaller portable devices do already exist. However, because they rely on reverse osmosis and thermal processes, they are able to remove salt ions but are unable to filter out organic contaminants from the briny water found in some river and lake systems.

"For people in remote locations, briny water can sometimes be the only available water source," he says. "That's why it's important to not only be able to remove salts from water, but to also be able to put it through a process of purification."

"Our study showed that carbon nanotube membranes were able to filter out ions of vastly different sizes -- meaning they were able to remove salt, along with other impurities," he says.

According to Professor Ostrikov, the other downside of existing portable devices is that they require a continuous power supply to operate their thermal processes. "On the other hand, the new membranes could be operated as a rechargeable device."

Professor Ostrikov attributes the success of the new membranes to the unique properties of plasma treated carbon nanotubes.

"Firstly, ultralong nanotubes have a very large surface area that is ideal for filtration. Secondly, nanotubes are easy to modify, which allows us to tailor their surface properties through localised nanoscale plasma treatment," he says.

Now that the researchers have proven the effectiveness of the method, they plan to extend their research to investigate the filtration properties of other nanomaterials. They will begin by looking at graphene, which has similar properties to carbon nanotubes, but could be made considerably denser and stronger.

The study 'Carbon nanotube membranes with ultrahigh specific capacity for water desalination and purification' is a collaborative work between Singapore University of Technology and Design, CSIRO, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Sydney, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hui Ying Yang, Zhao Jun Han, Siu Fung Yu, Kin Leong Pey, Kostya Ostrikov, Rohit Karnik. Carbon nanotube membranes with ultrahigh specific adsorption capacity for water desalination and purification. Nature Communications, 2013; 4 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3220

Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Plasma-treated nano filters help purify world water supply." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130821094933.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2013, August 21). Plasma-treated nano filters help purify world water supply. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130821094933.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Plasma-treated nano filters help purify world water supply." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130821094933.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins