Monday, February 12, 2018

The Holy Grail of Humanity: Inexpensive, Clean Drinking Water

With two billion people worldwide lacking access to clean and safe drinking water, joint research by Monash University, CSIRO and the University of Texas at Austin published today in Sciences Advances may offer a breakthrough new solution.
It all comes down to metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), an amazing next generation material that have the largest internal surface area of any known substance. The sponge like crystals can be used to capture, store and release chemical compounds. In this case, the salt and ions in sea water.
A method of removing salt and ions from water -- inexpensively! The details are here. If this pans out, and it likely it will, MOFs along with the Nobel Prize-winning breakthroughs from about 15 years ago, have the promise that we can bring drinkable water at reasonable cost to the world. And, with the same technology able to separate ions from the water, it will pay for itself -- companies would love to be able to pull salt and ions (like lithium ions) from sea water. Wow.

I often speak about now I evaluate the environmental problems facing the world. I've had a list based on their threat to mankind and their "solvability." Here they are:
  1. Malaria in Africa. One million children a year die. It looks like we are getting close to solving it at reasonable cost.
  2. Drinking water. Again, it looks like we are getting close. 
  3. Global warming. I've said plenty about my thoughts on that subject.
We live in an amazing, amazing world where extreme poverty is at the lowest level in history. The reporters who believe the world is overpopulated need to get out of New York City and see this vast nation and world with all of its resources. 

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