A new method for the desalination of sea water has been reported by a team of American and German researchers in the journal Angewandte Chemie. In contrast to conventional methods, this technique consumes little energy and is very simple. This electrochemically mediated seawater desalination is based on a system of microchannels and a bipolar electrode.
The United Nations estimates that one-third of the global population already lives in water-stressed areas; this figure is expected to double by 2025. Salt water, on the other hand, is not in short supply. A seemingly obvious solution would be to desalinate seawater; however, this is not so easy. Processes like vaporization and subsequent condensation of the water require enormous amounts of energy. Reverse osmosis additionally requires expensive, delicate membranes that are easily fouled, and the water must undergo complex pre-treatment steps.
Developed with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy by Richard M. Crooks (The University of Texas at Austin), Prof. Ulrich Tallarek (University of Marburg, Germany), and their colleagues, the new electrochemical process works without membranes or large amounts of energy. The researchers force the water through a system of two microchannels that are about 22 µm wide, an auxiliary channel and a branched working channel, flowing on to the outlets.
The two channels are electrically connected through a bipolar electrode. The auxiliary channel is connected to a voltage source, the working channel is grounded, and a potential difference of 3.0 V is established between the two channels.
The structure of the channel system is critical: The electrode juts into the branch point of the working channel. Because of the voltage, some of the negatively charged chloride ions in the seawater are oxidized to neutral chlorine at one end of the bipolar electrode. In the narrow channel system, this creates a zone that has a lower number of negatively charged ions, which results in an electric field gradient that directs the positively charged ions in the seawater into the branching channel.Physics requires the electroneutrality within the microchannels to be maintained, so the anions follow the positive ions into the branched channel. The water flowing through the branch is thus enriched with ions, while the water continuing through the main working channel is partially desalinated.
Richard M. Crooks | Angewandte Chemie
Single atom alloy platinum-copper catalysts cut costs, boost green technology
09.10.2015 | Tufts University
Controllable protein gates deliver on-demand permeability in artificial nanovesicles
09.10.2015 | Universität Basel
Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.
To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...
The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.
As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...
Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.
Inspired by insects
An interdisciplinary team of researchers has built the first prototype of a miniature particle accelerator that uses terahertz radiation instead of radio...
At present, tiny magnetic whirls – so called skyrmions – are discussed as promising candidates for bits in future robust and compact data storage devices. At...
01.10.2015 | Event News
30.09.2015 | Event News
17.09.2015 | Event News
09.10.2015 | Earth Sciences
09.10.2015 | Life Sciences
09.10.2015 | Life Sciences