Saturday, September 28, 2019

Could Nanotechnology lead to cleaner water?

Could Nanotechnology lead to cleaner water?

Not all nanopores are created equal. For starters, their diameters vary between 1 and 10 nm. The smallest of these nanopores, called Single Digit Nanopores (SDNs), having the diameters of less than 10 nm and only recently have been used in experiments for precision transport measurements. If these gaps can be filled there is a chance to discover new mechanisms of molecular and ionic transport at the nanoscale that may apply to a host of new technologies. SDNs can be tailored to sieve ions efficiently from seawater and serve as membranes for seawater desalination; differentiate between polar and nonpolar fluids; enhance proton transport in fuel cell applications; and generate electricity from osmotic power harvesting.
The team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists and colleagues from seven other institutions, led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have reviewed recent SDN experiments and identified critical gaps in understanding nanoscale hydrodynamics, molecular sieving, fluidic structure and thermodynamics and also analyzed seven knowledge gaps in the understanding of nanoscale behaviour. For example, scientists have seen a counterintuitive slip-flow enhancement in nanopores, in which the narrowest nanopores demonstrate the highest mass transport rates. Other notable knowledge gaps include fluid phase boundaries in SDNs that are distorted relative to their bulk fluid counterparts, and nonlinear, correlative effects on ion transport through SDNs that are not observed in larger diameter nanopores.

A better understanding of transport at the nanoscale can lead to innovative technologies such as new membranes for water purification, new gas-permeable materials and energy storage devices.

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Source: Nano Magazine

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