The U.S. Office of Naval Research has awarded a $400,000 grant to desalination tech leader NanoH2O, to develop a high efficiency desalination nanomembrane that is more resistant to fouling. The effort, part of the Navy’s Future Naval Capabilities program, is aimed at increasing energy efficiency and portability for shipboard use. The NanoH2O grant also dovetails with the U.S. Navy’s focus on addressing climate change issues through its Task Force Climate Change program.
In contrast to climate science deniers like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other key organizations representing the interests of fossil fuel industries, the U.S. Department of Defense is moving aggressively to prepare for a future that is far more sustainable and energy efficient, and far less dependent on fossil fuels. Hey, if those business “leaders” aren’t going to support our troops, they could at least get out of the way while everybody else is busy working.
High Efficiency and Nanomembranes
The new grant illustrates the pivotal role that nanotechnology is playing in the shift toward more sustainable, energy efficient technology. The buildup of material on desalination membranes puts a big crimp in their efficiency. At the University of California, Los Angeles, researchers have developed sponge-like “nanotunnels” that enable water to pass through while repeling salt and other contaminants. NanoH2O’s system is based on UCLA-developed nanotechnology that provides for high efficiency through this kind of pinpoint control over the properties of a membrane.
The U.S. Navy, Energy Efficiency and Water Conservation
Water is the U.S. Navy’s meat and potatoes, but it’s not only about getting potable water. It’s also about getting a reliable supply of potable water at remote bases and during long voyages with a very limited amount of space for storage and equipment, and a limited amount of energy that can be budgeted for the operation. A compact, energy efficient desalination system with a high throughput would be a valuable resource. The Navy is also looking into graywater recycling and high efficiency, portable water purification systems that could be used in the rising number of humanitarian relief operations that the Navy foresees as a consequence of global warming.
Image: Ocean wave by AZAdam on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.