The new carbon membrane generates 100 times more energy from seawater. The work of scientists from Leiden University is published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
When fresh and salt water meet each other, an exchange of salts and other elements occurs between them. Scientists use membranes between fresh and salty liquid – this allows you to generate energy in the process of exchange. A similar process is also used to desalinate salt water.
The amount of energy generated directly depends on the thickness and porosity of the membrane – the thinner and fluffier it is, the more energy can be obtained with it.
The new membrane, whose composition is close to graphene and is a combination of carbon atoms without any impurities, allows you to produce about 100 times more energy compared to existing ones, the authors of the study write.
To create this new membrane, the researchers created an oily coating on the surface of the water from proteins that gradually formed a thin film. When the film is heated, the molecules are fixed in place, creating a stable and porous membrane.
The membrane we created has a thickness of only 2 nanometers and is permeable to potassium ions. We can change the properties of the membrane using another molecular building block. Thus we can adapt it to any needs.
Xue Liu, lead author of the study