MIT Develops Tiny Water Purifier Inspired By Computer Chip Tech

by , 04/13/10

sustainable design, desalination chip, mit, water, desalination, drought, green design, eco design

The answer to the growing water crisis in developing countries might be a postage stamp-sized device that resembles a computer chip. Researchers at MIT have developed a water purifier made out of soft silicone that separates out contaminants using magnetic fields — all without getting clogged.

The clear device is lined with dark slashes, or microchannels, that filter out dirty water (and anything else with a positive or negative charge) using a strong magnetic field. A single device can only process tiny amounts of water, but MIT researchers imagine that they could be lined up in arrays–1,600 units placed on an 8 inch diameter wafer, for example, could generate 15 liters of water an hour.

The desalination device does have some disadvantages. It is so small that it would be difficult to use it to desalinate water for an entire city, though it could certainly be useful in emergency situations. MIT’s device also uses more electricity than large-scale devices, but researchers claim it is the most efficient device in existence for small-scale desalination.

Researchers have so far only tested a single unit, which succeeded in removing 99% of contaminants from seawater. Next up: building a 100-unit device for testing. If all goes well, MIT researchers expect to have the system ready for commercialization in two years.


Photo by Patrick Gillooly

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  1. kalvindale June 25, 2010 at 2:03 am

    I like this particular article it gives me an additional input on the information around the world. thanks a lot and keep giving with posting such information.
    New Technology

  2. eco-panda April 16, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    great job you guys! now people living and strugling in thrid world countries and other places around the world can finally have clean water, especially kids. i love this device i cant wait to tell my class mates and teachers about this, its amazing! 😀

  3. sanud002 April 13, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I think this is a great day in human history. I don’t think most people realize that 1 billion people don’t have access to clean water. We need to continue to strive to push the boundaries of technologies to first and foremost tackle these types of basic need “mega problems”. They say that this technology can be run off a solar cell. Even this part of the equation would have been a big problem even a few years ago because of how costly solar cells can be. I just saw a video about how military scientists have just developed a cheap and flexible solar cell that is 10,000 times more efficient than the old standard! I’ll post a link to the video so you can check out this amazing breakthrough for yourself. It’s creativity and innovations like this that will keep our world moving forward in the right direction for years to come.

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