The National Graphene Institute previously found that graphene-oxide membranes have the ability to filter small nanoparticles, organic molecules and large salts out of water. However, this filtration was ineffective on the common salts due to swelling of the graphene-oxide membrane, leading to an increase in sieve size which allowed the smaller salts to pass through. A group of scientists at the University of Manchester have developed a method to prevent swelling and control pore size so that even common salts can be filtered out of water, allowing water to be effectively desalinated and safe to drink.
The team hopes to be able to mass produce these graphene-based membranes, and eventually filter even the ions in water by controlling pore size. They also hope to make this technology available on a smaller scale to countries that need filtered water, but cannot yet afford the funding of large plants.