MIT engineers have created a portable device that zaps seawater to make drinking water.

Karen Kazumasuki

Karen Kazumasuki

MIT’s team of scientists have created a device that turns brackish water into clean drinking water at the push of a button. This can be especially useful for people who live in seaside areas like California. Drought due to climate change..

New desalination equipment (terms used to describe machines that can: Remove salt from seawaterr) According to a paper published in the journal on April 14, it is approximately the size of a suitcase, weighs less than 10 kilograms, and consumes less power than a cell phone charger. Environmental science and technology.. With the push of a button, you can automatically create drinking water that exceeds the World Health Organization’s water quality standards.

Nikko may be the key to turning our ocean into drinking water

“Kindergarten students can also carry and use desalination equipment,” Junghyo Yoon, a research scientist and co-author of the paper at the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, told The Daily Beast. “”[Ease of use] It was one of the main motivations for creating a device. “

This device does not rely on filters like traditional desalination equipment. Instead, it zaps water with an electric current to remove minerals such as salt particles from the water. According to Yun, its portability and lack of filters that need to be replaced have a wide range of uses, including being sent to seaside communities, climate disaster refugees, and even doomsday preparers.

“My team and I have been working on desalination techniques for over a decade,” Jongyoon Han, a professor of electrical and computer science and biotechnology at MIT and the lead author of the paper, told The Daily Beast. “This particular technology has gone through many different iterations to finally reach a demonstrable system milestone.”

Yun and Han’s new equipment solves some of the problems that plague most commercial desalination equipment. For one, pushing water through a filter through a pump consumes a lot of energy, making it difficult to create a small, portable version. Instead, the MIT team’s devices rely on a process called ion concentration polarization (ICP). This process utilizes an electric field transmitted through the membranes above and below the channel. The field repels charged particles and contaminants into another channel and discards them. This will allow you to make clean, drinkable water. “We put an electric field on the stream of water, and electricity helps remove salt-like particles in the water,” Yun explained. “This is the basic principle of the device desalination process.”

Researchers now want to build devices to improve device production and ease of use. After all, the more water a device can make at one time, the more people will have access to safe and drinkable drinking water. To that end, Yun will launch a startup in the coming years to create a viable commercial desalination appliance using ICP technology with the support of MIT.

However, Han said he has broader and more “long-term goals” for desalination efforts. Specifically, we would like to consider reverse osmosis (RO), a desalination process that pushes salt water into a membrane or filter to produce clean water, more critically. “This achieves sufficient energy efficiency, but it has significant maintenance requirements and only operates on large scale plants, such as large plants,” Han said, inefficient in places around the world such as California. I added that it is a process. The demand for water is constantly changing, “says the urgent need for clean, drinkable water.

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<p>The user-friendly unit, which weighs less than 10 kg and does not require the use of filters, can be powered by a small portable solar panel.</ p> </ div> </p>
<div class ="インライン-image__credit">M.Scott Brauer</div>
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The user-friendly unit, which weighs less than 10 kg and does not require the use of filters, can be powered by a small portable solar panel.

M.Scott Brauer

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The user-friendly unit, which weighs less than 10 kg and does not require the use of filters, can be powered by a small portable solar panel.

M. Scott Brauer

“That flux doesn’t work well with the rigorous model of desalination used in RO plants,” he said. “So I’m thinking about how to apply a more flexible desalination process like ICP. That’s a really long-term direction I’m interested in.”

He also explained that he would like to tackle challenges other than desalination, such as the detection and removal of water pollutants such as heavy metals and pathogens that cause diseases such as viruses and bacteria.

“Most of these pollutants are open-charged, so technically speaking, we have the opportunity to remove a wide range of pollutants such as lead and bacteria,” Han said. “In the future, we want to design the system to remove industrial pollutants. Those prospects are very exciting.”

For more information, see The Daily Beast.

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