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Sheng Dai
Sheng Dai

A team of experimentalists led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and UT has demonstrated an energy-efficient desalination technology that uses a porous membrane made of strong, slim graphene—a carbon honeycomb one atom thick.

With less than one percent of Earth’s water drinkable, removing salt and other minerals from our biggest available source of water—seawater—may help satisfy a growing global population thirsty for fresh water for drinking, farming, transportation, heating, cooling and industry. But desalination is an energy-intensive process, which concerns those wanting to expand its application.

“Our work is a proof of principle that demonstrates how you can desalinate saltwater using free-standing, porous graphene,” said Shannon Mark Mahurin of ORNL’s Chemical Sciences Division, who co-led the study with Ivan Vlassiouk in ORNL’s Energy and Transportation Science Division.

Sheng Dai, of UT’s Department of Chemistry and ORNL, helped come up with the idea and experiments and analyzed some of the data.

The results are published in the March 23 advance online issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

For a full release on the breakthrough, visit ORNL.