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November 8th, 2006
Ocean waves could provide an energy-efficient way to desalinate seawater, say UK researchers. While conventional purification plants have high energy demands, the rocking motion of floating buoys could be used to drive a pump system for desalination.
These plants drive water through membranes that filter out salt, but their efficiency is limited because they can become clogged (see Desalination may be best hope to slake world's thirst). Nidal and colleagues are researching ways to solve this problem using nanotechnology. "Already the cost of fresh water is down to around 40 US cents per cubic metre," he says. "The next-generation membranes should make that even lower."
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