Will we get our drinking water from the sea in the future?
At Ghent University, a technology has been developed which will make seawater desalination much easier in the future.
Traditionally, a membrane is used to convert sea water into drinking water, letting through the water and blocking the salt. However, so much energy is needed for this method that it is used on a very limited scale, for example in the Middle East.
Ghent University's bio-engineer Marjolein Vanoppen therefore went in pursuit of a technology which would solve the issue of high energy consumption.
She first placed a salt-selective membrane in the seawater, which blocks the water but lets the salt through. Apart from decreasing the amount of salt in the water, power was generated as well. Subsequently, the researcher placed a water-selective membrane in the same water, after which significantly less energy was needed to further reduce the amount of salt.
Considerable further research will be needed before this technology can be applied on a large scale, but the prospect of getting our drinking water from the sea has certainly become a lot more realistic.