Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor better known for making jets and missiles, has developed a clean water technology. This technique makes it easier to turn seawater into drinking water. The process that the company developed involves the use of an extremely thin filter, which is only an atom thick and pushes water through holes that are a nanometer in size. This greatly reduces the amount of energy required for desalination and could potentially lead to a significant reduction in the costs of this otherwise very expensive process.
The filter developed by the company is 500 times thinner and 1000 times stronger than the best filter on the market today, requiring 100 times less energy to filter salt out of the water. The use of this technology would be very beneficial to developing countries facing water shortages. Although seawater could represent an enormous source of drinking water, conventional desalination processes using reverse osmosis are very costly because they require huge pumping stations to be built in plants.
If current water management techniques are maintained, it is estimated that, by 2040, the world’s supply of fresh water will not be able to meet demand. This could have extremely dire consequences in terms of security because water scarcity could lead to instability and conflict. Water scarcity is therefore an extremely relevant global security issue, which explains why a defense contractor like Lockheed Martin is developing clean water technology.
The company is still facing many challenges in terms of how to move into mass production. However, it is hoping to develop a prototype of the new filter by the end of the year and is looking for partners to help it commercialize the product in 2014-2015.
– Caroline Poterio Martinez
Photo: Business Insider