Researchers from Columbia University believe they’ve found a way to quickly and easily desalinate water.
The process, called Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction, is designed to purify hypersaline brines (water that contains a high concentration of salts up to seven times as salty as seawater). This kind of waste water is produced by industrial processes and poses a major pollution risk to groundwater.
As is shown in the video below, the research team mixed a solvent (dyed red) in with a sample of hypersaline brine (dyed blue). The liquids appear to stay separated in the jar, but after heating and then decanting the red solvent into another jar to be heated separately, the team is left with a layer of clear water.
The team was able to remove up to 98.4% of the salt, which is comparable to the current “gold standard” process, reverse osmosis. But unlike reverse osmosis or other methods of desalination, this process doesn’t require high temperatures or high pressures – just a low-grade heat of less than 70ºC.