It may only be one atom thick and invisible to the eye.
But the graphene layer wrapped inside this tube could help provide clean water to the planet.
The mesh around its tiny holes act as a filter.
Bacteria and other nasty bits in the dirty water are trapped in the graphene layer.
And drinking water come through the other side.
I did it get blocked by the graphene and just pure water can come here.
So effectively it’s safe.
Yeah, more or less, yeah.
Turn graphene into a shield like this and run salt water through it, the salt molecules stick and H2O passes through.
Graphene can desalinate seawater as well.
We recently showed it’s definitely possible to remove ions with graphene, which was a very important step.
But now we need to reproduce those results on a very large scale.
This is probably gonna take at least four or five years I think.
In many ways it appears to be the breakthrough the world’s been waiting for.
Cities like Cape Town face potentially catastrophic water shortages, desertification through climate change, waterborne diseases.
The problems are so well known, yet solutions remain elusive.
That’s partly because desalination and other filtration processes are currently slow, expensive.
Once the graphene solution is scaled up to industrial levels, it may hold the prospects of revolutionizing the availability of clean water.
Technology on this one, for example, have a big role to play.
They can reduce the cost of water distribution, water treatments a lots.
And it can really help water companies, governments motivate them to provide water for cheaper to their citizens.
It won‘t be enough, but it can play a big role.
As ever though much of the potential success of graphene will be wrapped up in politics.
People living in Gaza for example rely on desalinated water and lay their hopes on Israel and the United Nations for solutions.
Technological advances and political will aren’t the same thing.
They already had queries from people in cities like Cape Town, wondering how quickly they can get hold of their own personal water filtration systems.
So there’s no doubting the urgency of the need.
But it is as good an example as you can find the way in which technology is now on the points,
being able to overcome some of the planet’s most difficult public health problems.