The production of clean drinking water made possible by a scalable membrane

The promise of graphene-oxide membranes in achieving effective water filtration has been realised with the development of a membrane capable of sieving common salts.

Graphene sieve
University of Manchester

A more powerful membrane has been created which can better purify drinking water.

Graphene-oxide membranes have demonstrated the potential of filtering out small nanoparticles, organic molecules, and even large salts but were not capable of sieving common salts in desalination processes.

Graphene-oxide membranes can become slightly swollen when immersed in water allowing smaller salts to flow through the membrane along with water, while larger ions or molecules are blocked.

However, scientists from the University of Manchester have now found a way a way to stop the swelling and precisely control pore size down to the atomic scale.

Professor Rahul Nair said: “Realisation of scalable membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale is a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology.

“This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes.”