Inspenet, December 29, 2023.
Researchers at Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are exploring another use for graphene : producing drinking water.
” Here in the United Arab Emirates, all drinking water is desalinated, so it is a very important sector of the economy and society ,” explains Hassan Arafat, director of the Center for Research and Innovation in Graphene and 2D Materials. (RIC2D) of the university.
In the UAE, desalination plays a crucial role as more than 300 million people globally depend on desalinated water. However, this process is expensive and requires a large amount of energy.
It is in this context where the aforementioned substance becomes relevant, since Arafat is developing a membrane improved with graphene that has the potential to make the desalination process more efficient and economical.
Graphene to produce drinking water
The RIC2D was established in 2022 at Khalifa University with funding from the Government of Abu Dhabi, with the purpose of further researching graphene innovations and its production process. Although Arafat’s position as senior director gives him a comprehensive view of various projects, his own research focuses on the water domain.
Arafat maintains that this can prolong the life of a membrane by preventing “fouling,” a phenomenon that occurs when bacteria accumulate in the filter and affect its quality. Its implementation to “optimize the performance” of the filters could contribute to reducing energy consumption and costs associated with desalination, he notes.
The membranes, which are currently in the development stage, will be manufactured and scaled up next year at the University of Manchester, located in the United Kingdom, which is a RIC2D collaborator in graphene research, according to Arafat. . Subsequently, they will be tested in a desalination plant.
Arafat’s interest in the application of graphene for desalination is not exclusive, since companies such as Watercycle Technologies are working on membranes improved with this compound for the removal of specific minerals from water and Molymem is focused on the removal of dyes. However, Arafat maintains that the membrane developed by RIC2D outperforms similar water filters mentioned in recent academic studies . The partnership with the University of Manchester provides them with the opportunity to expand the technology for industrial-scale testing.
In addition to its focus on desalination, RIC2D is exploring other applications of graphene , such as the development of sustainable building materials with the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and hydrogen-based renewable energy solutions.
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