New Desalination Process Slashes Costs of Producing Fresh Water

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Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest military contractors, has developed a process that company officials say significantly reduces the amount of energy needed to desalinate water, an innovation that could help communities worldwide tackle the growing threat of water scarcity.

According to the U.S.-based company, the new process uses ultra-thin carbon membranes with holes large enough to allow water to pass through, but small enough to block the salt molecules in seawater, Reuters reports.

Because the membranes have holes as thin as a single atom, the process would require far less energy than existing desalination technologies, which rely on reverse osmosis, the company says. “It’s 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger,” said John Stetson, a Lockheed Martin engineer.

“The energy that’s required and the pressure that’s required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less.” A 2011 study found that desalination technology could be the cheapest approach to meeting the planet’s growing water needs.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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