A state-of-the-art water desalination and purification system that uses carbon nanotube-based membranes is reported in Nature Communications this week. This system achieves high absorption of salt and other water contaminants and could lead to the development of a reusable tool for water purification.
Portable water treatment systems have many advantages over larger-scale operations, and are especially useful in remote locations where there are immediate water supply difficulties. Hui Ying Yang and colleagues have therefore developed a highly absorbent membrane made of plasma-treated carbon nanotubes bound to a cellulose based porous support. This membrane exhibits an ultrahigh capacity for salt adsorption, whilst simultaneously removing large biological molecules and also inorganic metal nanoparticles from water. It is hoped that this new membrane technology will aid the development of next-generation rechargeable, point-of-use water purification appliances.