Using metal-organic frames (MOF) and sunlight, as published in the journal Nature Sustainability, a group of researchers has achieved transform brackish water and seawater into drinking water in less than half an hour.

Not only did they succeed in filtering harmful particles from the water and generating 139.5 liters of clean water per kilogram of MOF per day, but they also performed this task with more energy efficiently than current desalination practices.

Efficient desalination

The research team created a metal-organic structure (MOF) dedicated called PSP-MIL-53. This was synthesized by introducing poly (spiropyran acrylate) (PSP) into the pores of MIL-53 a specialized MOF well known for its respiratory effects and transitions on the adsorption of molecules such as water and carbon dioxide.

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Metalorganic structures are a class of compounds consisting of metal ions that form a crystalline material with the largest surface area of ​​any known material, which is why MOFs are so porous that they can fit the entire surface of a soccer field in one teaspoon.

Huanting Wang, from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University, in Australia, highlights that this work has been carried out by Huanting Wang, from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Monash University, in Australia, highlights that this work has opened a new direction to design sensitive materials to incentives for energy efficient and sustainable water purification and desalination:

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. Our work provides an interesting new route for designing functional materials to use solar energy to reduce energy demand and improve the sustainability of water desalination. These sunlight-sensitive MOFs can potentially be further functionalized into environmentally friendly, low-energy mineral extraction media for sustainable mining and other related applications.

Researchers were able to achieve a TDS of <500 ppm in just 30 minutes and regenerate the MOF for reuse in four minutes under sunlight. To get an idea, WHO suggests that good quality drinking water should have a total dissolved solid (TDS) of <600 parts per million (ppm).

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