MIT Desalination Device comes in Postage Stamp-Size
The lack of fresh, potable water is a major contributor to the water crisis facing developing countries. MIT researchers, though, think they may have found a solution in a postage stamp-sized device reminiscent of a computer chip.
The tiny device is made of clear, soft silicone that has a series of microchannels engraved into the surface. When a strong magnetic field is applied to the device, the microchannels act to filter out any contaminants in the water. One device can only process a miniscule amount of water, but an array of 1,600 devices placed on an eight-inch wafer could clean 15 liters of water an hour.
The ultra-compact size of MIT’s desalination device is both its best advantage and also its greatest pitfall. Although suitable for emergency applications and for small-scale uses, it would not be practical for large-scale desalination projects, such as an entire city. In addition, it is more expensive to operate than bigger devices.
Challenges notwithstanding, MIT scientists hope to have a cost-effective system ready for commercial release within two years. For developing countries, this tiny device may have a huge impact on their futures.
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