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TRENDING SCIENCE: Making saltwater drinkable in minutes

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 785 million people around the world lack a clean source of drinking water. The climate crisis is making things worse. Saltwater, which makes up around 97 % of the water on our planet, is a huge untapped resource. Solutions are urgently needed to make it suitable and safe.


According to a recent study, scientists have developed technology that converts seawater into clean drinking water in under 30 minutes by using sunlight. Sunlight is the most abundant and renewable source of energy on Earth, said Prof. Wang from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University in Australia, Our development of a new adsorbent-based desalination process through the use of sunlight for regeneration provides an energy-efficient and environmentally-sustainable solution for desalination. 



Desalination plants are being operated all over the world to address the demand of freshwater required by industries and large cities in water-scarce coastal areas. The desalination and energy are very much interlinked, as plants are energy intensive. The energy consumption of desalination plants varies from 5 to 15 kWh/m3 of product water depending on the technology. In addition, the percentage of reject seawater/brine exiting the plants varies from 60% to 80% depending on the desalination technique.


L. T. Prasad published a study of brine mining of strategic trace metals at the journal progress in energy & fuels. The paper presents the status review on a recovery of important trace metals and other alkali metals from seawater, and highlights the potential of Indian desalination plants for the recovery of trace metals. The adsorption studies carried out using radiation grafted polymeric adsorbents along with fouling studies are also discussed in this paper, which involved determination fouling tendency of the adsorbents in a different environment, and recovery of uranium and vanadium from the reject brine. The paper also gives a schematic diagram and major unit operations involved in a process flow scheme.


The study shows that the coupling of uranium recovery unit with desalination plants gives the added advantage of faster adsorption kinetics with bare minimum fouling factors for the mass transfer coefficient. The economics of desalination process will become more attractive as more and more rare and strategic elements like lithium and rubidium are extracted in addition to uranium and vanadium.


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