June 10, 2023

From Seawater to Drinking Water at the Push of a Button – With No Filters!

Filter-free technology
Commercially offered portable desalination units typically need high-pressure pumps to press water through filters, which are extremely hard to miniaturize without compromising the energy-efficiency of the gadget, describes Yoon.
Rather, their unit depends on a method called ion concentration polarization (ICP), which was originated by Hans group more than 10 years ago. Rather than filtering water, the ICP procedure uses an electrical field to membranes placed above and listed below a channel of water. The membranes repel positively or adversely charged particles– consisting of salt molecules, bacteria, and viruses– as they flow previous. The charged particles are funneled into a 2nd stream of water that is ultimately discharged.
The process gets rid of both liquified and suspended solids, enabling clean water to go through the channel. Because it just needs a low-pressure pump, ICP uses less energy than other methods.
The portable device does not need any replacement filters, which considerably reduces the long-term maintenance requirements. Credit: M. Scott Brauer
ICP does not always get rid of all the salts drifting in the middle of the channel. The scientists incorporated a second process, known as electrodialysis, to get rid of remaining salt ions.
Yoon and Kang utilized device finding out to find the perfect combination of ICP and electrodialysis modules. The optimal setup consists of a two-stage ICP process, with water streaming through six modules in the very first stage then through three in the 2nd phase, followed by a single electrodialysis process. This decreased energy usage while making sure the process stays self-cleaning.
” While it is true that some charged particles might be recorded on the ion exchange membrane, if they get trapped, we simply reverse the polarity of the electrical field and the charged particles can be easily eliminated,” Yoon explains.
They diminished and stacked the ICP and electrodialysis modules to enhance their energy efficiency and allow them to fit inside a portable device. The researchers designed the device for nonexperts, with simply one button to launch the automatic desalination and purification process. Once the salinity level and the number of particles reduce to particular limits, the gadget alerts the user that the water is drinkable.
The researchers likewise developed a smart device app that can manage the unit wirelessly and report real-time data on power usage and water salinity.
Beach tests
After running laboratory experiments using water with different salinity and turbidity (cloudiness) levels, they field-tested the device at Bostons Carson Beach.
Yoon and Kwon set package near the coast and tossed the feed tube into the water. In about half an hour, the gadget had filled a plastic drinking cup with clear, drinkable water.
MIT scientists have produced a portable desalination system that can automatically eliminate particles and salts all at once to produce drinking water. “This is truly the culmination of a 10-year journey that I and my group have actually been on,” says senior author Jongyoon Han, right, imagined with Junghyo Yoon, seated. Credit: M. Scott Brauer
” It achieved success even in its first run, which was quite interesting and unexpected. I think the main reason we were effective is the build-up of all these little advances that we made along the method,” Han states.
The resulting water exceeded World Health Organization quality guidelines, and the unit lowered the amount of suspended solids by at least an aspect of 10. Their model produces drinking water at a rate of 0.3 liters per hour, and requires just 20 watts of power per liter.
” Right now, we are pressing our research study to scale up that production rate,” Yoon states.
One of the greatest obstacles of designing the portable system was engineering an instinctive device that might be utilized by anybody, Han says.
Yoon intends to make the gadget more easy to use and improve its energy efficiency and production rate through a startup he plans to release to advertise the innovation.
In the laboratory, Han desires to use the lessons hes found out over the previous years to water-quality problems that go beyond desalination, such as rapidly spotting pollutants in drinking water.
” This is absolutely an exciting project, and I am proud of the development we have actually made up until now, however there is still a great deal of work to do,” he says.
While the “development of portable systems utilizing electro-membrane processes is a exciting and original instructions in off-grid, small desalination,” the results of fouling, specifically if the water has high turbidity, could substantially increase maintenance requirements and energy expenses, notes Nidal Hilal, teacher of engineering and director of the New York University Abu Dhabi Water research study center, who was not included with this research.
” Another constraint is the usage of expensive materials,” he adds. “It would be intriguing to see similar systems with inexpensive products in location.”
Recommendation: “Portable Seawater Desalination System for Generating Drinkable Water in Remote Locations” by Junghyo Yoon, Hyukjin J. Kwon, SungKu Kang, Eric Brack and Jongyoon Han, 14 April 2022, Environmental Science and Technology.DOI: 10.1021/ acs.est.1 c08466.
The research was funded, in part, by the DEVCOM Soldier Center, the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS), the Experimental AI Postdoc Fellowship Program of Northeastern University, and the Roux AI Institute.

Unlike other portable desalination devices that require water to travel through filters, this unit utilizes electrical power to eliminate particles from drinking water. Removing the requirement for replacement filters significantly reduces the long-term maintenance requirements.
The setup consists of a two-stage ion concentration polarization (ICP) process, with water streaming through six modules in the first stage then through three in the 2nd stage, followed by a single electrodialysis procedure Credit: M. Scott Brauer
This might enable the system to be released in severely resource-limited and remote locations, such as communities on small islands or aboard seafaring cargo ships. It might also be utilized to aid refugees leaving natural catastrophes or by soldiers bring out long-lasting military operations.
” This is truly the conclusion of a 10-year journey that I and my group have been on. We worked for years on the physics behind private desalination procedures, but pressing all those advances into a box, constructing a system, and showing it in the ocean, that was a actually meaningful and fulfilling experience for me,” says senior author Jongyoon Han, a professor of electrical engineering and computer system science and of biological engineering, and a member of the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE).
Signing up with Han on the paper are first author Junghyo Yoon, a research study scientist in RLE; Hyukjin J. Kwon, a previous postdoc; SungKu Kang, a postdoc at Northeastern University; and Eric Brack of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM). The research has been released online in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The easy to use system, which weighs less than 10 kgs and does not require making use of filters, can be powered by a small, portable photovoltaic panel. Credit: M. Scott Brauer
Scientist develop a portable desalination system that produces clear, clean drinking water without the need for filters or high-pressure pumps.
MIT researchers have established a portable desalination system, weighing less than 10 kilograms (22 pounds), that can remove salts and particles to create fresh drinking water.
It can also be driven by a little, portable solar panel, which can be purchased online for around $50. It instantly generates drinking water that exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) quality requirements.

It instantly produces drinking water that goes beyond World Health Organization (WHO) quality standards. Rather than filtering water, the ICP process uses an electrical field to membranes positioned above and below a channel of water. The optimal setup includes a two-stage ICP process, with water flowing through 6 modules in the first stage then through three in the 2nd phase, followed by a single electrodialysis process. When the salinity level and the number of particles reduce to specific thresholds, the gadget informs the user that the water is drinkable.
MIT scientists have created a portable desalination system that can instantly get rid of salts and particles at the same time to create drinking water.