A team of researchers has created a graphene sieve which can cleanse seawater and make it eligible for drinking. The sieve is regarded as a major development that can help in eradicating the problem of drinking water availability.
According to BBC, the graphene sieve is considered a very efficient device for filtering salts and will soon be tested against desalination membranes. The team of researchers has explained graphene as a substance containing a single layer of carbon atoms, which consists of unusual properties like superb tensile strength and electrical conductivity. The carbon atoms are hexagonally arranged in the graphene sieve, dubbed one of the most useful materials for future use.
However, existing methods like chemical vapor deposition (CVD) has not been able to generate a satisfactory amount of graphene layers. The current production routes are also known to be very expensive. The researchers say that graphene sieve can be produced in the lab via a simple oxidation process. They also say that if graphene membranes have holes in them which measure more than one nanometre, then there is a possibility for the salt to not get separated by the membrane.
According to CNN, the industrial manufacturing and usage of graphene sieve as desalination agents involve a significant amount of expenditure. The process is also harmful to the environment, emitting greenhouse gasses. It has also faced criticism for involving a large amount of energy in production and for being harmful to the marine organisms.
The researchers have been cautious in their steps following outrage over the manufacturing of graphene sieve. Hence, they have been looking to methods by which they can produce the substance without much expense and also not causing harm to the environment. One such way is to separate the water molecules from ions by physical restriction of interlayer spacing. This might lead to the synthesis of inexpensive membranes that can separate the salt from water.
The researchers consider that more research is required to test the durability of the barriers and to prove that the graphene sieve is devoid of any ill effects. The result of the research work has been published in the journal "Nature Nanotechnology".