Scientists have created a device that could generate clean drinking water from any source – even the Dead Sea.
Researchers at the University of Texas have made the system, which uses a gel-polymer hybrid called ‘hydrogels’ to purify a water source and make it drinkable.
The hydrogels allow for water vapour to be produced under direct sunlight.
The desalinating properties of these hydrogels have even been tested on water samples from the salt-rich Dead Sea and passed with flying colours.
Using water samples from one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth, UT engineers were able to reduce salinity from Dead Sea samples significantly after putting them through the hydrogel process.
In fact, they achieved levels that met accepted drinking water standards as outlined by the World Health Organisation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Guihua Yu, one of the authors of the study, said:
We have essentially rewritten the entire approach to conventional solar water evaporation.
Water scarcity is beginning to cause problems for communities across the world. In Cape Town, South Africa, at least one million homes won’t have running water in ‘Day Zero’, planned for July, after the country’s third year suffering a drought.
According to National Geographic, in parts of Africa, South America and Australia, people habitually experience water scarcity.
This research is vital in providing clean water to the world. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, at least one in four people will likely live in a country affected by “chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water”.