The Future of Desalination: Graphene and LENR?

Many people who have high hopes for LENR see one of its major applications being a cheap source of power to make possible widespread desalination to provide fresh water in many arid parts of the world. Currently, while desalination is certainly an effective way to make seawater potable, it is an expensive process, mainly because the amount of power required to run the plants.

According to Lockheed Martin, the process of desalination could now become much less expensive, even with conventional energy sources because of a new graphene filter — known as Perforene — that the company is developing.

Graphene, a sheet of pure carbon only one atom thick is sometimes referred to as a miracle material because it is so light, but also incredibly strong — and it is an extremely efficient conductor of heat and electricity. Lockheed Martin are working on building graphene filters that could be used to replace the ones currently used in reverse osmosis desalination plants.

A recent Reuters article discusses the breakthrough technology, and quotes John Stetson, the engineer who has been working on the project.

“[Graphene is] 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger . . . the energy that’s required and the pressure that’s required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less . . . The amount of work it takes to squeeze that water through the torturous path of today’s best membranes is gone for Perforene, it just literally pops right through because the membrane is thinner than the atoms it’s filtering.”

Notaro said Lockheed expects to have a prototype by the end of the year for a filter that could be used as a drop-in replacement for filters now used in reverse osmosis plants.

The company is looking for partners in the filter manufacturing arena to help it commercialize Perforene as a filter in the 2014-2015 time frame, he said.

Lockheed officials see other applications for Perforene as well, from dialysis in healthcare to cleaning chemicals from the water used in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” of oil and gas wells.

This is certainly an interesting development, and seems to provide for a desalination solution that is not dependent upon cheaper energy to be effective. Of course, combining graphene and LENR would give you the best of both worlds, but the energy savings from using the Perforene filters alone would be tremendous.