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Published on September 15th, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

24

Carbon Nanotubes Might Be Used in Future Water Filters



water

Nanotechnology seems to be invading all facets of modern life, from the pills you take to the batteries that power your iPod. Pretty soon, carbon nanotubes may even filter your water.

Researchers at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in India are investigating the hollow carbon fibers as a potential water filter. They believe the unique chemical properties of nanotubes mean that only water molecules can pass through their interiors, while toxic metal ions, viruses, and bacteria cannot.

Additionally, the smooth, water-repellent interior of the nanotubes means that a filter made from the technology would have a high flow rate of water without fouling—so it would be very efficient.

But there’s still plenty of work to be done before carbon nanotubes are a viable option for filtering. The Indian research team is currently trying to engineer nanoscale structures to form arrangements that can efficiently decontaminate water.

With the rapid rise of contaminated drinking water around the world, solutions are desperately needed. Since poor countries are more likely to lack access to drinking water, a carbon nanotube filter will be most useful if it is both simple and cheap to operate and maintain. And if that massive hurdle is surpassed,  developing nations may suddenly be a lot better off.

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



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  • http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/v3/n9/fig_tab/nmat1192_ft.html Riyu

    I don’t know if any of you actually read the article in question, but I suggest you look at it before you jump to hasty biased conclusions.

    I checked it out online and they already patented this filter, which I believe is one of the most promising inventions ever done. The only serious drawback is, I admit, the price, which was never mentioned anywhere, but for normal bulk nanotubes 1000-5000$/kg is no exception, so… If they are able to lower this significantly and come up with an industrial process of high enough output, they’ll become richer than rich and basically solve the world’s drinking water problem in the same go!

  • http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/v3/n9/fig_tab/nmat1192_ft.html Riyu

    I don’t know if any of you actually read the article in question, but I suggest you look at it before you jump to hasty biased conclusions.

    I checked it out online and they already patented this filter, which I believe is one of the most promising inventions ever done. The only serious drawback is, I admit, the price, which was never mentioned anywhere, but for normal bulk nanotubes 1000-5000$/kg is no exception, so… If they are able to lower this significantly and come up with an industrial process of high enough output, they’ll become richer than rich and basically solve the world’s drinking water problem in the same go!

  • dragonyu

    This technology is actually impossible. I worked on carbon nanotube membrane project for ~2 years, and it is practically impossible to make a realistic membrane for applications. It is just a joke.

  • dragonyu

    This technology is actually impossible. I worked on carbon nanotube membrane project for ~2 years, and it is practically impossible to make a realistic membrane for applications. It is just a joke.

  • http://www.find-green.info/search/carbon-nanotubes Green Girl

    ok…so anyone know how cost effective nanotubes really are?

  • http://www.find-green.info/search/carbon-nanotubes Green Girl

    ok…so anyone know how cost effective nanotubes really are?

  • http://punshurt.com/ Dan

    I’m glad to see someone else is noticing how often carbon nanotubes are coming in to conversation nowadays. Anyone else watch that special on the space tower where they plan to use carbon nanotubes as well?

  • http://punshurt.com/ Dan

    I’m glad to see someone else is noticing how often carbon nanotubes are coming in to conversation nowadays. Anyone else watch that special on the space tower where they plan to use carbon nanotubes as well?

  • http://www.seldontech.com Mark

    Water purification products using CNTs are available now. http://www.seldontech.com

    “Seldon has developed a new nanostructured material which includes carbon nanotubes: “nanomesh™” that is produced in large scale. Our products are built upon those amazing material properties of the carbon nanotube which include: large surface area, great strength, light weight, high electrical conductivity, rapid heat transport. This unique form of carbon lends itself to processing that transforms the material into an adsorptive media attracting contaminants to its surface.

    Seldon’s new fused nanomesh material forms the basis for safe, tested and proven products in three major fluid filtration applications: ground water, fuel and air purification.

    Water Products – Available Now”

  • http://www.seldontech.com Mark

    Water purification products using CNTs are available now. http://www.seldontech.com

    “Seldon has developed a new nanostructured material which includes carbon nanotubes: “nanomesh™” that is produced in large scale. Our products are built upon those amazing material properties of the carbon nanotube which include: large surface area, great strength, light weight, high electrical conductivity, rapid heat transport. This unique form of carbon lends itself to processing that transforms the material into an adsorptive media attracting contaminants to its surface.

    Seldon’s new fused nanomesh material forms the basis for safe, tested and proven products in three major fluid filtration applications: ground water, fuel and air purification.

    Water Products – Available Now”

  • eben

    I understand nanotubes have endlessly impressive applications, though, I suggest we understand more about them before we implement too heavily.

    http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=780.php

  • eben

    I understand nanotubes have endlessly impressive applications, though, I suggest we understand more about them before we implement too heavily.

    http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=780.php

  • gene

    Not so fast! As we know, asbestos fibers either inhaled or ingested are capable of causing cancer. There is research showing short nanotube fibers act like asbestos when inhaled or ingested as well. Let’s be sure about safety before using.

  • gene

    Not so fast! As we know, asbestos fibers either inhaled or ingested are capable of causing cancer. There is research showing short nanotube fibers act like asbestos when inhaled or ingested as well. Let’s be sure about safety before using.

  • oreobob

    Any idea if they’ll be able to keep certain chemicals in the water (Fluorine)?

  • oreobob

    Any idea if they’ll be able to keep certain chemicals in the water (Fluorine)?

  • tired

    I’m getting tired of hearing about nanotubes… All I ever hear is “Nanotubes can one day be used… blah blah blah” Start using them now! Stop talking about it. Until I am wearing nanotube underwear, I am going to just call it all hype!

  • tired

    I’m getting tired of hearing about nanotubes… All I ever hear is “Nanotubes can one day be used… blah blah blah” Start using them now! Stop talking about it. Until I am wearing nanotube underwear, I am going to just call it all hype!

  • JIff Masonite

    Wow, nanotubes are pretty cool.

    Jiff

    http://www.datools.net.tc

  • JIff Masonite

    Wow, nanotubes are pretty cool.

    Jiff

    http://www.datools.net.tc

  • http://www.waterfilters-camping-water-purifier.com showerob

    This is really a good news for water industry and a blessing to poor countries. If this technology proved to work efficiently, it will reduce costs, making it readlily accessible to needy nations.

    Good job to the researchers!

  • http://www.waterfilters-camping-water-purifier.com showerob

    This is really a good news for water industry and a blessing to poor countries. If this technology proved to work efficiently, it will reduce costs, making it readlily accessible to needy nations.

    Good job to the researchers!

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