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Desalination Breakthrough Turns Seawater Into Drinking Water
Turning seawater into drinking water just became more feasible. Scientists at the University of Manchester in the UK have developed graphene oxide membranes with holes small enough to filter out salt. The sieves represent a technological breakthrough in the effort to make desalination more efficient and affordable.
Graphene oxide membranes have been used in desalination experiments for years, but never before has the sieve been small enough to filter out smaller particles.
One of the major challenges with this process is the natural tendency of graphene oxide membranes to swell in water. This causes their pores to expand, and salt particles to pass through. The scientists, led by Rahul Nair, were able to control the swelling by building epoxy resin walls around the membranes, as noted in the study published in Nature Nanotechnology.
"Realization of scalable membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale is a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology," Nair said. "This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes."
According to the International Water Association, thousands of desalination plants currently exist worldwide, but the process remains expensive.
Earth's oceans contain 97 percent of the planet's water, the National Ocean Service estimates. To paint a picture of the total amount of salt in the oceans, NOAA said that "if the salt in the ocean could be removed and spread evenly over the Earth's land surface, it would form a layer more than 500 feet thick, about the height of a 40-story office building."
According to a United Nations report:
• Around 700 million people in 43 countries suffer today from water scarcity.
• By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world's population could be living under water stressed conditions.
• With climate change, almost half the world's population will be living in areas of high water stress by 2030.
In an article accompanying the scientists' research, Ram Devanathan, from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said the next step toward scaling the desalination process would be to test the durability of the graphene oxide membranes.
"The selective separation of water molecules from ions by physical restriction of interlayer spacing opens the door to the synthesis of inexpensive membranes for desalination," Devanathan said. "The ultimate goal is to create a filtration device that will produce potable water from seawater or wastewater with minimal energy input."
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."