Scientists from the University of Alexandria in Egypt developed a simple and inexpensive desalination technology of seawater.
The innovation lies in the invention of a new film which binds the particles of salt that penetrate it and this process is called pervaporation.
The film uses wood pulp fibers and this material is cheap and easy to be produced.
Pervaporation is a simple process that is completed in two phases: in the first phase the water is filtered through a ceramic or polymer membrane to remove the larger particles. In the second phase the water is heated until to be evaporated. Then, the condensed water is collected and the unwanted substances (crystals of salt and other contaminants) are removed, which results in the production of drinking water.
Desalination is a vital process for the water supply of the populations of the Middle East and North Africa. Already in Egypt and several Middle Eastern countries large desalination plants are running.
Most of these units are based on the reverse osmosis process, which requires expensive and energy-intensive infrastructure. These plants release large quantities of high-salinity water and other contaminants back into the sea damaging marine ecosystems.
The pervaporation process is not new, but until recently the construction of the membrane was very expensive.
Generally, the pervaporation is used for separating organic liquids, such as alcohol. This technology is existed since the mid-1990s.