Scientists from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom have invented a graphene-oxide membrane that can actually turn seawater into clean drinking water. The technology is currently limited to the lab, Science Alert explains, but may one day be crucial in quests to expand the world's sources of drinking water.
This isn't the first time scientists have used graphene-oxide to take impurities out of water. In the past, they've drilled tiny holes—we're talking a single nanometer, which is thousands of times smaller than a red blood cell—in graphene, which is a single-layer lattice of carbon atoms. The problem is that water can make those holes expand, which lets common salts like sodium chloride (table salt) through. But the new development, which was announced in April 2017 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, showed that the researchers' graphene-oxide membrane was able to filter out 97 percent of sodium chloride particles. The secret is the use of epoxy resin, a substance used in some glues, on either side of the membrane, which prevented this swelling.