Carbon Nanotubes Worth Their Salt

2017-08-28T11:53:25+00:00 August 28, 2017|
Carbon nanotube pipe that delivers clean desalinated water from the ocean to a kitchen tap. (Credit: Ryan Chen/LLNL)

(Click to enlarge) Carbon nanotube pipe that delivers clean desalinated water from the ocean to a kitchen tap. (Credit: Ryan Chen/LLNL)

Lawrence Livermore scientists, in collaboration with researchers at Northeastern University, have developed carbon nanotube pores that can exclude salt from seawater.

(From Science Daily) — The team also found that water permeability in carbon nanotubes (CNTs) with diameters smaller than a nanometer (0.8 nm) exceeds that of wider carbon nanotubes by an order of magnitude.

The nanotubes, hollow structures made of carbon atoms in a unique arrangement, are more than 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. The super smooth inner surface of the nanotube is responsible for their remarkably high water permeability, while the tiny pore size blocks larger salt ions.

Increasing demands for fresh water pose a global threat to sustainable development, resulting in water scarcity for 4 billion people. Current water purification technologies can benefit from the development of membranes with specialized pores that mimic highly efficient and water selective biological proteins.

“We found that carbon nanotubes with diameters smaller than a nanometer bear a key structural feature that enables enhanced transport. The narrow hydrophobic channel forces water to translocate in a single-file arrangement, a phenomenon similar to that found in the most efficient biological water transporters,” said Ramya Tunuguntla, an LLNL postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the manuscript appearing in the Aug. 24 edition of Science.

Read the full article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/08/170824182653.htm