Study demonstrates good vibrations for desalination

Researchers in Israel and China have reported how computer emulation findings suggest a novel nanotechnology-based strategy to improve water filtration. The research looked at minute vibrations of water-carrying carbon nanotubes called phonons which could enhance the diffusion of water through filters.

The researchers showed how phonons could improve filtration efficiency using computers to simulate the flow of water molecules through nanotubes. The results have important implications for membrane desalination.

According to Professor Michael Urbakh of the Tel Aviv University (TAU) school of chemistry, phonons can triple the energy efficiency of water passage through filters used in water disinfection and reverse osmosis desalination “Water filtration systems require a lot of energy due to friction at the nano-level. With these oscillations, however, we witnessed three times the efficiency of water transport, and, of course, a great deal of energy saved, ” Urbakh said.

The project was the joint effort between research teams at China’s Tsinghua University and at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel. It was led by Professor Quanshui Zheng of the Tsinghua Center for Nano and Micro Mechanics and Urbakh both of the TAU-Tsinghua XIN Center, in collaboration with Professor Francois Grey of the University of Geneva.