Hugh Pickens writes writes: "David Alexander reports that defense contractor Lockheed Martin has found a way to produce thin carbon membranes with regular holes about a nanometer in size that are large enough to allow water to pass through but small enough to block the molecules of salt in seawater, potentially making it vastly cheaper to produce clean water at a time when scarcity has become a global security issue. Because the sheets of pure carbon known as graphene are so thin — just one atom in thickness — it takes much less energy to push the seawater through the filter with the force required to separate the salt from the water. "It's 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger," says John Stetson, who began working on the issue in 2007. "The energy that's required and the pressure that's required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less." Stetson adds that if the new filter material, known as Perforene, was compared to the thickness of a piece of paper, the nearest comparable filter for extracting salt from seawater would be the thickness of three reams of paper — more than half a foot thick. Access to clean drinking water is increasingly seen as a major global security issue. Competition for water is likely to lead to instability and potential state failure in countries important to the United States, according to a U.S. intelligence community report last year. According to the report “during the next 10 years, many countries important to the United States will almost certainly experience water problems — shortages, poor water quality, or floods — that will contribute to the risk of instability and state failure, and increase regional tensions (PDF).""
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