Separating Salt

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Date: March 17, 2017

Anchor Lede: Access to clean, salt-free water is challenging in many parts of the world. A new system may make desalination of water easier.

Randy Atkins: Traditional methods of salt removal require pushing water through filters that eventually become clogged. Instead, Martin Bazant, an engineer at M-I-T, is flowing water through a very porous material sandwiched by electrodes that create a steadily increasing current and ultimately a shockwave.

Martin Bazant: And then what happens is you form this sharp jump in salt concentration, which can then be separated in a way that’s essentially membrane-less.

Randy Atkins: A simple physical barrier in the center of the water stream causes salty water to go on one side and desalinated water on the other. It not only removes salt and toxins but sterilizes too.

Martin Bazant: Any biological entities such as bacteria, spores, or other molecules coming through the system are hit by a large electric field.

Randy Atkins: While the work is still in lab development, Bazant says it should be easy to scaled up and instal in places of need. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.