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Energy Efficiency

Published on January 30th, 2009 | by Ariel Schwartz


Researchers Harness Power of Osmosis for Water Purification

January 30th, 2009 by  

As the world approaches peak water, technology to harvest freshwater from non-potable sources becomes increasingly important. Researchers at Yale University have recently developed such desalination technology using the power of osmosis.

While desalination systems have been around for years, Yale doctoral student Robert McGinnis and his advisor Menachem Elimelech have taken a novel approach that requires only one-tenth the electric energy used in traditional systems.

The researchers use “forward osmosis” (natural water diffusion) to draw pure water from contaminants to a concentrated salt solution. The desalinated water can easily be removed with a low heat treatment that requires minimal energy input.

Yale University will market the innovative technology through a new company called Oasys. We’ll post more information as it becomes available.

Photo Credit: Yale University

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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.

  • “Peak water” – that is a frightening phrase. Only a few years ago, the focus was ‘peak oil’ – we can live without oil…

    Hopefully policy makers will increasingly focus on keeping water clean in the first place, and cleaning wastewater properly.

    Claudius Jaeger

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