Genesis Morocco: Nanoparticles Technology Slash the Cost of Desalination by 25%

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Genesis Morocco

Project Genesis is a strategic sustainable development framework for Morocco to translate from being a net importer of energy and a country facing water shortage issues, into the number one producer both of clean renewable energy and water in the region.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011    <<Home

Nanoparticles Technology Slash the Cost of Desalination by 25%

Visual : White light nanoparticules

Personal Notes : Available within the next two years. Definitely something to keep a tab on. Also, can we deduce that will in the future reach greater energy efficiency ? Perhaps we could slash the energy cost by a further 50 percent within the next decade. Efficiency in water desalination is key for the Genesis Project success, this is very encouraging news. Very interesting articles below.

UCLA researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science announced earlier this week the development of new reverse osmosis (RO) technology that could boost the productivity of seawater desalination and wastewater reclamation.

Traditional RO desalination utilizes extremely high pressure to force polluted or salty water through a dense, semi-permeable polymer film. The pressurized water molecules pass through the pores of the membrane, leaving salt ions and impurities trapped in the film, resulting in purified water.

According to civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Eric Hoek, who led the research team that developed the new RO method, traditional RO can be costly because the polymer film becomes soiled quickly, and a high volume of energy is required to force the water through the membrane.

Hoek’s new RO device uses a unique cross-linked matrix of polymers and engineered nanoparticles that draws in water ions and repels nearly all contaminants. The new membrane is built on the nanoscale to create tiny tunnels that draw water and allow it to flow through much easier than contaminants.

“The nanoparticles are designed to attract water and are highly porous, soaking up water like a sponge, while repelling dissolved salts and other impurities,” Hoek said. “The water-loving nanoparticles embedded in our membrane also repel organics and bacteria, which tend to clog up conventional membranes over time.”

Hoek’s new membranes require less energy to pump water through them, and since the membranes repel particles that stick to traditional RO surfaces, they become soiled less quickly. The new RO membranes are as effective as current RO methods, but are less expensive and more productive, Hoek said. Initial tests on the membranes suggest they could reduce the expense of desalinating water by up to 25 percent.

Hoek said the world is in great need of a supply of affordable, sustainable clean water. “It is essential that we reduce the overall cost of desalination — including energy demand and environmental issues — before a major draught occurs and we lack the ability to efficiently and effectively increase our water supply.”

Hoek is currently working with partner NanoH2O, LLP, to develop the patent-pending technology. The new RO technology should be commercially available within the next two years.

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Nanoparticles Purifying Water: All Hype or Reality?

Recent findings that say nanoparticles can help purify water seem like something you can expect from a science fiction movie or something that you can read from a book by Jules Verne. Can nanoparticles really help give us cleaner and purer water, and if so, how does it work to do this?

When you talk about nanoparticles, you may begin to visualize those little robots that a certain cartoon character developed to help him with certain tasks and deeds. These are nano-bots and are not what scientists in universities in Mexico have developed in order to help clean water of toxic substances in less than an hour.

How this happens seems to need the power of the sun or of ultraviolet light to complete the purification process. What the researchers in these universities used was titanium oxide nanoparticles that have been made to adhere to glass with the use of heat.

Once water in these glass containers that have been treated with these nanoparticles is hit by sunlight or by UV rays, the water is then purified.

This same concept is actually being used by certain companies who purify water but not as their main water purification mode. Instead, the use of nanoparticles for purification is a secondary method used with other water purification methods to further remove toxins and dirt from water.

What these companies do is to add porous nanoparticles to water-purifying membranes to help increase their water purification efficiency and to enhance productivity without compromising quality. This method is often seen as doubly effective as current water purification methods and would help with increasing volume while reducing energy requirements.

This new idea for purifying water is paired off with reverse osmosis and is seen as the new solution to the ever-increasing need for clean drinking water in a time when water supplies are fast disappearing. This new technology for making fresh water can be used with desalination and can make fresh water out of saltwater faster and with the use of less energy.

This may seem too good to be true since saltwater has seldom been purified with the use of membranes like the one used in reverse osmosis due to the energy needs that are required by such an action.

The use of nanoparticles in this equation seems to not only help purify water effectively by removing the toxins that can be found in the water being cleaned, it also helps increase the production of clean water due to the water-attracting or hydrophilic properties that this membrane now has due to these nanoparticles.

While this may seem way too idealistic, the company that seems to have developed this technology is set to put out their water purification system for commercial use in the coming year. Sounds too good to be true? Probably, but imagine if this produces what it says it can produce.

You will be able to solve the water pollution problem that a lot of countries around the world are experiencing—and all you will need is this new nanoparticle water purification system and a salt water source and you have water that you can drink safely.