Fresh drinking water leaves the desalination plant Carlsbad, California, United States. Photo Credit: Reed Kaestner/Getty Images

Technology Australia25. August 2020

Will the Sun be the Key to Our Drinking Water Problem?

A team of scientists from Australia and China are proposing a way to harvest the most abundant source of energy: sunlight. They have come up with a method that efficiently desalinates stagnant and salty water better than the previous ones.

“This study has successfully demonstrated that the photo-responsive [metal compounds] are a promising, energy-efficient, and sustainable adsorbent for desalination,” says Huanting Wang, a professor of chemical engineering and the study’s lead author. “Our work provides an exciting new route for the design of functional materials for using solar energy to reduce the energy demand and improve the sustainability of water desalination.”

The metal compound used in their method is composed of metal ions configured into a crystalline pattern, has “breathing effects,” and is able to promote efficient absorption. Indeed, the compound could absorb enough water in 30 minutes to produce close to 40 gallons of fresh water per single kilogram of material.


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