A team of scientists from Israel and the Netherlands is helping improve the ion-removal process from seawater to turn it into fresh water. This new process addresses previous problems in removing harmful ions from water that are difficult to remove because of their chemical properties, which are amphoteric or those that rely on the water's pH.

In their study, titled "Removal of Ammonia and Nitrates From Contaminated Water by Using Solid Waste Bio-Adsorbents" published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers were able to predict the behavior of boron ions during water processing, thus simplifying their removal.

 New Ion-Removal Process Improves Conversion of Seawater Into Fresh Water
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New Ion-Removal Process Improves Conversion of Seawater Into Fresh Water

New Ion Removal Process Applied in Desalination of Seawater

The demand for fresh water increases every year, and yet the scarcity of it is also growing. Due to that, scientists are motivated to use non-conventional ways of reusing water resources.

For instance, the research article, titled "Desalination for Agriculture: Water Quality and Plant Chemistry, Technologies and Challenges" in the journal Water Supply, reported that desalination techniques have been used for agricultural irrigation to satisfy growing demand in water-scarce regions.

However, desalination for agricultural purposes is more energy demanding and requires additional post-treatment because of the stringent ionic concentration standards for agricultural irrigation.

According to, study author Jouke Dykstra from Wageningen University & Research said that it is difficult to remove amphoteric ions using standard membrane technologies because chemicals are needed to control the pH, which is something that should be avoided as much as possible.

Researchers from Wageningen collaborated with colleagues from Technion, and the European Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology to create a new theoretical model of how boron ions behave during capacitive deionization, a growing technique for water treatment and saltwater desalination using electrodes.

This new process applies electric current wherein ions are adsorbed to the electrons, removing them from the water. This is a novel theoretical model that will help scientists predict boron ions behavior and use it on saltwater desalination.

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Other Uses of the New Ion-Removal Process

The team said that systems for the ion-removal process need a completely new design as they have demonstrated theoretically and in their experiments. They showed that the was should move from positive to negative electrode contrary to the customary these days, wherein they move from the opposite side.

Dykstra concluded that their research has shown that a good theoretical model is crucial in the effectiveness of controlling complex chemical processes in removing troublesome ions from water.

He also noted that the theoretical model could also be used for other challenges in water processing, such as in wastewater treatment that usually includes removing arsenic, drug residues, and herbicides to meet technology-based treatment standards.

However, an article in the Arabian Journal of Chemistry reported that conventional treatment processes have significant disadvantages, like incomplete removal of heavy metals, high-energy requirements, and production of toxic sludge.

Therefore, researchers of the new study think that the new theoretical model could help address these problems and improve water treatment.

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