An international team of scientists has turned seawater into clean, safe drinking water to drink in less than 30 minutes in sunlight. The process is more efficient than current desalination plants and could provide millions of people with drinking water.

Water is a very valuable natural resource, as it is necessary for life. But in many parts of the world there is a shortage of fresh drinking water, and one of the solutions used in areas near the coast is the desalination of sea water.

With the aim of optimizing the process that removes salt from water to purify it and make it optimal for drinking, an international team of scientists has carried out research that has obtained the most encouraging results: they have been able to convert salt water into safe drinking water in less than 30 minutes and through a more efficient system than those we can find today.

As the researchers explain in their study, published in Nature Sustainability, to transform salt water into drinking water they have used an organic material of a type known as MOF (Metal-Organic Framework). This class of compounds consists of metal ions that form a crystalline material with the largest surface area of ​​any known material. In addition, they stand out for being extremely porous and absorbent.

These scientists created a specific MOF to carry out the task of purifying salt water, called PSP-MIL-53. In their research they showed that, in contact with seawater and applying sunlight, this material is capable of producing 139.5 liters of fresh water per kilogram of MOF per day. Furthermore, to complete the purification process the compound needs less than 30 minutes.

WHO suggests that good quality drinking water should have a total dissolved solid of less than 600 ppm. The water desalinated by this MOF has total dissolved solid below 500 ppm, so that it is completely safe for consumption.

If you have drunk water that has been in the glass for several hours, even a day in the glass, you will have noticed a rancid, even unpleasant taste. Has the water gone bad?

“Evaporative thermal desalination processes are energy intensive, and other technologies, such as reverse osmosis, have several drawbacks, including high energy consumption and the use of chemicals in membrane cleaning and dechlorination,” explains Huanting Wang, lead author of the study. “Our development of a new desalination process based on absorption through the use of sunlight provides an energy efficient and environmentally sustainable solution. “