Focus

Carbon nanostructures for water desalination

Image credit: ELLA MARU STUDIO

The increasing demand for fresh water for drinking and agriculture is one of the grand challenges of our age. Desalination is one of the ways in which fresh water can be obtained and is used in several countries, but it is inefficient and not sustainable. In this web focus we collect some articles about the potential use of carbon nanostructures in better desalination devices.

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Editorial

More carbon and less salt p497

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.122

We take a closer look at recent developments in research on various strategies to use carbon nanostructures for water desalination.


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N&Vs

Ion sieving and desalination: Energy penalty for excess baggage pp585 - 592

Ram Devanathan

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.53

Permeation experiments and simulations show that physically confined graphene oxide allows water molecules to pass through while hindering hydrated ions.

Thermal desalination membranes: Carbon nanotubes keep up the heat pp500 - 501

Chanhee Boo and Menachem Elimelech

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.114

Applying high-potential alternating current to a carbon-nanotube-polymer composite film provides a self-heating membrane that enhances desalination performance of high-salinity brines by membrane distillation.

Water remediation: A steam nanogenerator pp506

Giacomo Prando

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.117

The efficient use of solar thermal energy aimed at water remediation is demonstrated using a membrane composed of long-range vertically aligned graphene sheets, leading to high rates of water evaporation as well as desalination and purification.


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Review

Fundamental transport mechanisms, fabrication, and potential applications of nanoporous atomically thin membranes pp509 - 522

Luda Wang, Michael S. H. Boutilier, Piran R. Kidambi, Doojoon Jang, Nicolas G. Hadjiconstantinou and Rohit Karnik

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.72

This Review examines the development of nanoporous atomically thin membranes, focusing on fundamental mechanisms of gas- and liquid-phase transport, membrane fabrication techniques, and advances towards practical applications.


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Letters and Articles

Tunable sieving of ions using graphene oxide membranes pp546 - 551

Jijo Abraham, Kalangi S. Vasu, Christopher D. Williams, Kalon Gopinadhan, Yang Su, Christie T. Cherian, James Dix, Eric Prestat, Sarah J. Haigh, Irina V. Grigorieva, Paola Carbone, Andre K. Geim and Rahul R. Nair

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.21

Ion permeation and selectivity of graphene oxide membranes with sub-nm channels dramatically alters with the change in interlayer distance due to dehydration effects whereas permeation of water molecules remains largely unaffected.

Frequency-dependent stability of CNT Joule heaters in ionizable media and desalination processes pp557 - 564

Alexander V. Dudchenko, Chuxiao Chen, Alexis Cardenas, Julianne Rolf and David Jassby

doi:10.1038/nnano.2017.102

Electro-oxidation of CNT Joule heaters can be eliminated through the application of sufficiently high a.c. frequencies, which enables their use as self-heating membranes in membrane distillation.


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