WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
Millions of people around the world don’t have regular access to clean drinking water, and this breakthrough could help them.
Every year millions of people around the world die from diseases they’ve contracted from drinking unclean water but now researchers in Australia have developed a product that can purify water, no matter how dirty it is, in just one, single step. Scientists from the Australian research organisation the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have created a filtration technique using a graphene film with microscopic Nano-channels that lets water pass through, but stops detergents, oil, pollutants and salts, and the process, called “Graphair”, is so effective that water samples from Sydney Harbor were safe to drink after being treated.
While the film hails from Graphene, Graphair is comparatively cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly to make because its primary component is renewable soybean oil, which also helps maximise the efficiency of the purifying technique’s filter counterpart. Over time, oil-based pollutants can impede water filters, so contaminants have to be removed before filtering can even begin, but using Graphair removes these pollutants faster than any other method.
Would you drink this?
Water purification usually involves a complex process of several steps so this breakthrough could have a significant impact on the 2.1 billion people who don’t have clean, safe drinking water. Just to bake that statistic in your head, today, out of the 7.5 billion people on the planet over 5.4 billion of them have smartphones while 2.1 billion people still have no easy access to clean drinking water…
“All that’s needed is heat, our graphene, a membrane filter and a small water pump. We’re hoping to commence field trials in a developing world community next year,” said researcher Dr Dong Han Seo, who added that the team is looking for industry partners to help scale up the technology. As for their next steps though the same team plan on using new variants of Graphair to help desalinate seawater and treat industrial effluents.