Lockheed Martin develops a saltwater filter with graphene

Kevin Lee

The world is mostly covered with water, but only three percent of it is actually fresh water and a vast majority of it is still frozen in glaciers. To help meet the world’s ever-increasing need for drinkable water, Lockheed Martin says it has invented a new graphene-based filter that can easily convert salt water into fresh water.

Lockheed Martin’s desalination membrane, called Perforene, is made of single-atom thick sheets of graphene. The material is designed so that water molecules pass through easily while the carbon web captures the dissolved salts.

Previous attempts at desalinating seawater either pushed salt water through a series of filters at high pressure or captured the steam from boiling water. Both methods, however, require significant amounts of energy to produce the heat or pressure to make them work.

According to Reuters, the Lockheed Martin scientists say their filter is “500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger.” The graphene filtration method uses 100 times less energy than current saltwater filtration systems.

Lockheed says it could have a prototype filter available by the end of 2013. Meanwhile, the team is also looking into other uses including medical dialysis and fracking (hydraulic fracturing). Be sure to check out the Reuters article for the full interview with scientists that created Perforene.

[Reuters via Popular Science]

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