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From the Chemistry Department

Crooks Group Develops New Method of Seawater Desalination

A research team led by Professors Richard Crooks of The University of Texas at Austin and Ulrich Tallarek of the University of Marburg has developed a new method of seawater desalination which requires less energy than conventional techniques.


By applying a mere 3 volts to a plastic chip filled with seawater, the researchers were able to achieve desalination. The chip contains a two-branched microchannel; at the junction of the channel, an embedded electrode creates an "ion depletion zone" by neutralizing chlorine ions in the seawater. The result is an increased local electric field compared with the rest of the channel. By changing the electric field, salts are redirected into one branch while desalinated water passes through the other.


So far, the research team has achieved 25% desalination; while 99% desalination is considered necessary for drinking water, the researchers believe they will achieve this goal. Their simple, low-cost technique could be of great benefit to water-stressed areas that lack infrastructure and funds to desalinate using conventional processes.


Source: http://www.utexas.edu/news/2013/06/27/chemists-work-to-desalt-the-ocean-for-drinking-water-one-nanoliter-at-a-time/

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