Researchers develop suitcase to convert salt water to fresh water

Researchers at the prestigious MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have apparently launched a new research project that could solve future problems of global water shortage. The idea is to use a suitcase to convert salt water into drinkable water. A special filter is not to be used in the process.

Turning saltwater into drinking water without a filter

As the world’s population grows, we must also come to terms with the fact that resources are becoming increasingly scarce. This applies not only to oil, coal and gas. The supply of water that we take for granted could also become a real problem in the long term. A team of researchers at MIT has now found a solution to the impending water shortage. A kind of suitcase is supposed to contain everything needed to convert salt water into drinking water – all without filters. In the portable box, which is supposed to weigh only a few kilos, the conversion is supposed to take place by means of electrical energy. Ultimately, the researchers promise drinkable water that is even higher in quality than that recommended by the WHO.

Converting salt water into drinking water is not witchcraft. With the help of suitable filters, this is already possible without any problems. However, it is not really possible to put this into practice as a private person. The mobility made possible by the special case also sounds promising. Finally, it is currently not only necessary to use special filters. These are only effective when used in conjunction with a powerful high-pressure pump. This is where the MIT researchers came in. They took on the task of making conversion possible even on the move.

Conversion with the help of an electric field

But how do the researchers achieve bypassing the previous technology? Instead of relying on filters and high-pressure pumps, the researchers use electrical energy. According to the MIT researchers, the special technique is called “ion concentration polarization.” This involves creating an electric field that changes the particle composition of the salt water in such a way that it becomes fresh water. The system filters out the salt molecules in particular, but also other unpleasant components such as bacteria. The harmful substances as well as the salt are then flushed out of the liquid in a special water stream.

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But that is not all. This is followed by what is known as “electrodialysis”. This removes even the last salt ions from the liquid. What sounds like complicated physics and chemistry is, according to the research team, foolproof in its application. For us, this means that the market-ready product should work quite simply at the push of a button. The device will be done converting salt water to fresh water when the desired threshold is reached. According to MIT, this should take just under half an hour in practice.

MIT hopes for support from startup

Of course, MIT did not develop its special case without reason. Especially in areas with little drinking water, the use is of course conceivable. Also on ships, one can think of it, since such a safeguard is very practical. Furthermore, the suitcase can be helpful as an emergency kit during a trip to an island. After all, hardly anything should be more frustrating than to be thirsty surrounded by a lot of water, but you just can not drink. At the same time, the case should not require much power. A charger for smartphones should be enough.

Filters are not needed. That should reduce maintenance. (Image: M. Scott Brauer, MIT)

Alternatively, it should be possible to combine the case with a solar panel. The research team is fully convinced of its invention. However, the suitcase still has some teething problems. For example, it is difficult to maintain. Especially when used with very dirty water, subsequent cleaning is said to be laborious. However, the researchers are hoping for active support from smart startups in this area. We are already excited about the results and are sure that this invention can help many people.

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.
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