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Researchers Discover Way to Remove Salt from Seawater using Nanotechnology

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posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 10:44 PM
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The article:


A team of researchers from The Australian National University have discovered a way to remove salt from seawater using nanotubes made from boron and nitrogen atoms that will make the process up to five times faster.

With 25 percent of the world’s population currently affected by water shortages, researchers Dr Tamsyn Hilder, Dr Dan Gordon and group leader Professor Shin-Ho Chung from the Computational Biophysics Group at the Research School of Biology at ANU have come up with a way to eliminate all salt from seawater whilst maintaining high water flow rates. Their results have been published in the journal Small.

With population growth and climate change limiting the world’s fresh water stores, desalination and demineralization are fast becoming feasible solutions. However, there is an urgent need to make the process of desalination more effective and less costly than current methods. Nanotechnology-based water purification devices, such as those proposed by Hilder, Gordon and Chung, have the potential to transform the field of desalination.

“Boron nitride nanotubes can be thought of as a hollow cylindrical tube made up of boron and nitrogen atoms,” said Dr Hilder. “These nanotubes are incredibly small, with diameters less than one-billionth of a meter, or 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a single strand of human hair.

“Current desalination methods force seawater through a filter using energies four times larger than necessary. Throughout the desalination process salt must be removed from one side of the filter to avoid the need to apply even larger energies.

“Using boron nitride nanotubes, and the same operating pressure as current desalination methods, we can achieve 100 percent salt rejection for concentrations twice that of seawater with water flowing four times faster, which means a much faster and more efficient desalination process.”

Hilder, Gordon and Chung use computational tools to simulate the water and salt moving through the nanotube. They found that the boron nitride nanotubes not only eliminate salt but also allow water to flow through extraordinarily fast, comparable to biological water channels naturally found in the body.www.azonano.com...


I really don't have much to add other than the usual nanotech apprehensions about unintended consequences, both technological and ecological.

Obviously the promise of easier desalination and how that would impact future water shortages could make a huge difference to a great deal of people ... it would also make nice chunk of money, more importantly it would change a lot of geo-sociopolitical dynamics across regions. This of course will make a lot of peeps unhappy.

It will be an interesting exercise to dissect valid scientific concern from technology suppression by the power mongers.




posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 12:18 AM
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I just get this image of like 3 billion people living in water shortage areas all standing near the edge of the ocean, sucking on straws.

I know that isn't exactly how it's going to work, but I cant help thinking about it that way.

It does seem that the more water which passes through human life, the more polluted it becomes.

Research on purifying sewage would be much better spent ie, cleaning up our own mess, instead of finding new sources of fresh water we can create more mess with.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 01:14 AM
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This is as inventions go, a God send

Desertification

The only environment on Earth expanding and doing so at an alarming rate is the Desert.

It posses no ecological hazard to add water, fresh water back to the environment, it would be reclamation in this case... a rare case I admit of technology actually for a long time at least, restoring balance to nature not compounding the problem.

Anything else is debatable in terms of technology and the changes it will make... Any other tech.

But Man can not live beyond a couple of days without some fresh water.

So on this one, your either with the Eugenics people, or the Kill the useless eaters via War crowd... Or you see this as fantastic aid in food supply and water supply to a growing population that will not globally realistically contain itself for another few generations as the third world modernizes.

Some crisis to me are non existent....

We do not all need Vehicles to be happy, Materialism goes to far, factories production, it all consumes energy... We can learn to waste less, we can survive with less power and do many, many things and...if let's say we run out of OIL, we will have to. It's not in any physical way a REAL issue Given that Electricity itself can be made via Nuclear, Solar...Wind

But there is nothing we can do without Water...

We can Triple, Quadruple the population of the Earth... and if we learn to exist in a more harmonious manner (which we will have no choice but to in order to survive) this is the only real issue...

food production, fresh water... Desertification... the only true actual physical real obstacles to Humanity and the other 2 come down to... Fresh water

So Our physical population Reality... The Physical of our Dilemma is in actuality in terms of the survival of Man, an issue of WATER

I could argue... any perspective, price, manipulation of power, or any argument against the technology it's only actual potential downfall is Human Nature... label it in any number of scenarios... they all fit one word Abuse and this we have to overcome regardless of what technology is present... So I will not entertain the pros and cons of the MORAL issues, they are also Singular and our own nature and apply yo ALL technology, in all times

But in Physical survival...

This is the One invention we actually NEED to physically continue as a species right now. So it is... a Miracle of sorts as I see it... (an inevitable miracle perhaps) but none the less...



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:21 AM
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reply to post by mopusvindictus
 


Yet I always worry that when we find solutions such as these instead of changing our consumption habits what ends happening in the long run is that we create different and greater problems down the line.

Of course I realize that thats easy for me to say when this could help an awful lot of people right now.

Still ...



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:25 AM
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reply to post by schrodingers dog
 


A nice simple low-tech approach is to simply boil the water


But I understand they need jobs and have huge budgets they must spend, so why not go crazy and develop some complicated process to do it.

Go science!




posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:28 AM
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reply to post by warrenb
 


That's exactly what our water desalination plant does here in Aruba, and we have one of the cleanest (if not THE cleanest) tap water in the world.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:32 AM
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Originally posted by Nick_X
Research on purifying sewage would be much better spent ie, cleaning up our own mess, instead of finding new sources of fresh water we can create more mess with.


I disagree.....much of the world doesn't have enough water, let alone enough sewage water to take care of their people properly.

If the economic numbers work out, this will be a huge improvement for much of the Third World. I could see a Nobel Prize coming from such work.

Still have to see the details though.... it sounds feasible.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:36 AM
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reply to post by TheBandit795
 


Here's a video with footage of the Aruba desalination plant





posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:37 AM
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Originally posted by schrodingers dog
reply to post by mopusvindictus
 


Yet I always worry that when we find solutions such as these instead of changing our consumption habits what ends happening in the long run is that we create different and greater problems down the line.


Let me guess, most of the water shortages happen in less developed countries.
I don't see how you can hope to "change consumption habits" of people already living pretty basic lives.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:41 AM
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reply to post by buddhasystem
 


I think you will find that drought affects an awful lot of people in developed and undeveloped regions. And you are missing the point with consumption. I did not mean singularly water consumption. I mean general consumption, over farming, climate change etc.

When people find easy fixes to the consequences of their behavior it inevitably leads to perpetuating the source cause.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:42 AM
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reply to post by warrenb
 



However, there is an urgent need to make the process of desalination more effective and less costly than current methods. Nanotechnology-based water purification devices, such as those proposed by Hilder, Gordon and Chung, have the potential to transform the field of desalination.
(emphasis mine, from the OP article)



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:43 AM
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reply to post by warrenb
 

distillation takes a lot of energy and is difficult to set up and maintain, filtration is often more efficient and user freindly especially if it were 4 times better than it is now.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:47 AM
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reply to post by schrodingers dog
 


How about free?

Solar Powered Desalination plants have been around for years

Check the countless results in google search

The only cost is building it and some maintenance




posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:51 AM
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reply to post by warrenb
 


Solar power is great no matter what system it is powering.


Groundwater (which may contain dissolved salts or other contaminants) or surface water (which may have high turbidity or contain microorganisms) is pumped into a tank with an ultrafiltration membrane, which removes viruses and bacteria. This water is fit for cleaning and bathing. Ten percent of that water undergoes nanofiltration and reverse osmosis in the second stage of purification, which removes salts and trace contaminants, producing drinking water. A photovoltaic solar array tracks the sun and powers the pumps needed to process the water, using the plentiful sunlight available in remote regions of Australia not served by the power grid.


Solar Powered Desalination Unit

As you can see, for drinking water, a secondary filtration stage is needed.

But yes, by all means use solar.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 10:59 AM
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reply to post by warrenb
 



Whatever solution provides the greatest amount of usuable water in the cheapest manner possible is what is needed. I have got to think that the options tried so far don't meet both of those criteria, either not enough water produced or not cheap enough to be feasible.

If desalinization of sea water was a very cheap and easy thing to do, very large scale, there would be a ton of Countries doing that. If mankind had an almost inexhaustible supply of fresh, clean water there would be almost no limit to our population growth.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 11:06 AM
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Originally posted by schrodingers dog
reply to post by buddhasystem
 


I think you will find that drought affects an awful lot of people in developed and undeveloped regions. And you are missing the point with consumption. I did not mean singularly water consumption. I mean general consumption, over farming, climate change etc.


As the climate change goes, the horse is already out of the gate. Himalayas are providing much less water than before to scores of millions of people depending on that source, same applies to other areas. Unless population growth there is limited to what these areas can practically sustain, there will be no end to pain. Sad but true.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 11:09 AM
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reply to post by buddhasystem
 


As to population growth ...

Empty Playgrounds: Global Populations in Decline

But I agree that we over-consume and are inefficient.

I'm not sure I am getting what you are trying to say. Do you think that this technology is a good or bad idea?



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 11:20 AM
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reply to post by mopusvindictus
 


Yep, great invention to be sure. The only catch I can see is cost. That is the usual fly in the oinment of any great discovery that could help mankind and create a better world. All the more reason for the powers that be to see this one disappear.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 11:26 AM
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Originally posted by schrodingers dog
I'm not sure I am getting what you are trying to say. Do you think that this technology is a good or bad idea?


I think that's a swell idea. I also think that it'll make things better in developed areas of the world, located on the shoreline where saltwater is abundant, with limited impact on arid inland regions, or areas becoming such. No silver bullet.

Dubai will become a more viable place. This thing is made for that sort of thing. Saudis are going to love it, too.



posted on Aug, 25 2009 @ 04:09 PM
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Originally posted by buddhasystem

Originally posted by schrodingers dog
I'm not sure I am getting what you are trying to say. Do you think that this technology is a good or bad idea?


I think that's a swell idea. I also think that it'll make things better in developed areas of the world, located on the shoreline where saltwater is abundant, with limited impact on arid inland regions, or areas becoming such.


I agree, this would help an awful lot of people who really need it.

We'll see if the ptb burry it or let it happen.



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