Egypt has developed a game-changing low-power water desalination technique

water salt purify waterfiltration
A_Lesik / Shutterstock
About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, but unfortunately most of that liquid nourishment isn’t suitable for drinking because it’s salt water found in the oceans. Removing salt from water is not an easy process, either. Current desalination technology requires a high amount of energy, making it prohibitively expensive — especially in developing nations. But don’t worry: a team of researchers at Alexandria University in Egypt have bypassed these power-hungry methods and created a simple filtration technique; the details of which are described in a research paper published last month in Water Science and Technology.

To remove salt from water with minimal power, the researchers use the process of pervaporation, in which salt water is first filtered though a membrane to remove larger particles. These filters contain cellulose acetate powder that, along with other components, will bind the salt particles as they pass through the membrane. Made from materials common to Egypt and surrounding countries, the filters are affordable and can easily be produced in a laboratory setting.

Once filtered, the water is vaporized under heat in a second purification step. The vapor, containing pure water, is then condensed and collected for drinking purposes. This method reportedly works with sea water, even the highly-salinized water of the Red Sea. It also purifies water that’s been contaminated with sewage and/or dirt, which makes it beneficial for use in developing nations. Because it uses ingredients available locally and does not require lot of energy, desalination via pervaporation is a relatively inexpensive process. “Using pervaporation eliminates the need for electricity that is used in classic desalination processes, thus cutting costs significantly,” says said Ahmed El-Shafei, an associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering in Alexandria University.

The method of pervaporation has been in use since the early 1990s and is being used in waste water treatment to separate organic solvents from industrial waste water. The team hopes to scale up production of the saline-removine membrane, printing it off in sheets that can be cut down for individual use. It also is working on a pilot desalination unit to test out the method on a larger scale.

Emerging Tech

A giant new solar farm in Texas will harness the sun’s rays to … brew beer?

Brewing beer is surprisingly energy intensive. With a giant new solar farm in Texas, the world’s largest beer manufacturer promises to brew 100% of its beverages using renewable energy.
Emerging Tech

Pass the salt please: Table salt found on Jupiter’s moon Europa

Astronomers have spotted something unexpectedly familiar on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa -- sodium chloride, better known as table salt. This suggests the under-ice oceans on Europa are salty and similar to our oceans on Earth.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Small Business

The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings

May may be coming to an end, but the bonanza of tech jobs just keeps coming. High-paying jobs abound at companies where people love to work. If you’re ready to make a change, this is a great time to look for something more fulfilling…
Emerging Tech

This drone with hands looks like a nightmare straight out of Black Mirror

This unlikely drone-with-hands creation is the work of Federico Ciccarese, the brains behind YouBionic, a bionic hand project that has evolved far beyond its original brief. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

This crazy-looking robot uses microspines on its legs to climb up walls

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have built a bioinspired robot, which uses microspines on its feet to grip onto rough surfaces. This allows it to climb up very steep gradients. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

Got $400 million to burn? The world’s largest airplane is up for sale

Stratolaunch, the world's largest airplane, is up for sale. All it'll cost you is $400 million dollars. The brainchild of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the plane was supposed to make space travel more accessible and affordable.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Florida’s autonomous vehicle law, E3 updates, and more

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including Florida allowing fully autonomous vehicles on the road, Atari’s new gaming system, E3 updates, high-speed rail, and more.
Emerging Tech

Ex astris, scientia: Star Trek logo spotted on the surface of Mars

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been boldly going to Mars and capturing images since 2005, and now it has spotted something where no man has gone before: a structure on the planet's surface which will look familiar to Trekkies.
Emerging Tech

Adobe develops tool to identify Photoshopped images of faces

With deepfake videos making headlines, and campaigns against the Photoshopping of models, people are more aware than ever of the digital manipulation of images. Now Adobe wants to give tools to users to let them spot faked images.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will pave the way for manned missions to Mars

Survival on Mars is a massive challenge for humanity. To cope with the highly variable temperatures, lack of oxygen and water, and high levels of radiation, the Mars 2020 rover will carry instruments to pave the way for human exploration.
Emerging Tech

Facebook builds virtual homes to train A.I. agents in realistic environments

Researchers at Facebook have created Habitat, which is a platform that enables rapid training for A.I. agents. They will receive thousands of hours of training in just a few minutes in the virtual homes.
Emerging Tech

Impossible Foods struggles to keep up with Impossible Burger demand

Red Robin and White Castle have reported Impossible Burger shortages, as it appears that Impossible Foods is struggling to keep up with demand. The company will be selling its meat-like patties in retail outlets within the year.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Plant-based shoes and a ukulele learning aid

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!