Making ultra-thin materials with holes the size of water molecules

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While visiting GE’s China Technology Center, we got to take a look at reverse osmosis membranes. Reverse osmosis is the most energy-efficient means of removing dissolved substances from water. It’s what’s used commercially for desalination, the process of producing drinking water from seawater. The term “membrane” is typically used to mean a thin sheet of some material (in fact, the word “sheet” appears in the definition of the term). But for some of the things GE is using it for, the membranes were thin yet robust tubes, each one capable of supporting the weight of a bowling ball. Despite that toughness, features on the tubes are so fine that they can allow water molecules to pass through but reject many things that are roughly the same size, such as the salt ions found in seawater. This all raises an obvious question: how do you actually produce anything like that? We decided to look into the process of making reverse osmosis membranes. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Making ultra-thin materials with holes the size of water molecules

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