Scientists from the University of Manchester have made a breakthrough in desalination efforts by using the wonder material graphene. Researchers designed a graphene oxide sieve to make seawater potable, and more importantly have tweaked the graphene composite in order to make it commercially scalable. The BBC reports:
[It] has been difficult to produce large quantities of single-layer graphene using existing methods, such as chemical vapour deposition (CVD). Current production routes are also quite costly.
On the other hand, said [Dr Rahul Nair], “graphene oxide can be produced by simple oxidation in the lab…In terms of scalability and the cost of the material, graphene oxide has a potential advantage over single-layered graphene.”
Let’s remember that graphene as a material is only thirteen years old—it was discovered by researchers at the University of Manchester back in 2004. Since then, its potential for applications has surged dramatically, ranging from better information and energy storage to faster transistors to more efficient lasers. Companies have worked to include graphene into the design of objects as small as a computer chip to as large as an airplane wing. It has been called the most flexible, most conductive, and strongest material in the world, and we’re just getting started on deploying it into manufacturing processes.
Part of the hold-up on this graphene boom has to do with how expensive and time consuming it is to manufacture. That’s where these graphene oxides come in, the production of which is evidently much simpler. The latest breakthrough involves using these graphene oxides to help ensure future water security, but there’s a lot more to be excited about when it comes to this miracle material.