Researchers from all over the world work for an obvious but not easily achievable solution: to make sea water drinkable. Two different teams of American scientists, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and the Northeastern University of Massachusetts, have developed a new technology that seems able to do that.
These are carbon nanotubes with a diameter of 0.8 nanometers, that is 50,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Already other studies, in simulation and experimental, were made with tubes of 1 nanometer in diameter that guaranteed a greater flow of water but could not effectively separate the salt ions. Reducing the diameter of the pipes again was the fundamental idea of the two research teams, who lost something in liquid capacity but obtained excellent results in salt filtering.
As explained by Ramya Tunuguntla, a member of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: "We have noticed that carbon nanotubes less than one nanometer have a structural feature that improves transport.The tiny hydrophobic channels force the water to move in a single direction, a phenomenon similar to that found in the most efficient organic water transporters ".
Being water a fundamental commodity, and being so abundant in the oceans, you can only imagine what a revolution it would be if the nanotubes came to give the contribution that we all hope.