January 23 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment Year: Beyond Rating: 2
When imagining how much energy we'll need in the future we usually calculate the demand for homes, offices, and factories. But most forecasts ignore a highly probable, energy intensive process that will be in high demand during the 21st century - Desalination.
In the next century we will likely desalinate and transport massive amounts of water away from oceans to reach megacities and irrigate farms that will have to support 3 billion more people added to our planet in the next 40 years.
The Nanoscale Side of H20
How do we do this? Develop 'nanostructured' materials that lower the cost of desalination by facilitating reactions that use less energy to separate molecules leaving clean H20.
Earlier we covered a 'forward osmosis' patent claim by QuantumSphere that reportedly drops the cost of desalination by 70%. But other companies such as CDT and Proingesa are involved in advancing materials used in equally disruptive novel methods for desalination.
Now, Europe's research reporting service AlphaGalileo believes that advances in electrochemical capacitors could enable a new way of cleaning water. Capacitive deionization applies an electrical charge to water that makes 'the ions dissolved in the water migrate towards the electrode of an opposite charge, where they are adsorbed. In the regeneration cycle, the electrical load of the electrodes is switched off, therefore adsorbed ions are released.' The electrode materials used in this process are advancing around nanoscale designs that increase the reactive surface area. The result is less energy need to force the reaction.
Image Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory