Researchers discovered when aluminum is added to the core of liquid gallium at room temperatures, nano-sheets of aluminum oxide are quickly produced at the surface of the gallium. The aluminium oxide nano-sheets are both highly porous and proved to be suitable for filtering both heavy metal ions and oil contamination at unprecedented, ultra-fast rates.
The low cost and portable filters produced by this new manufacturing process could be used by people without access to clean drinking water to remove substances like lead and other toxic metals in a matter of minutes.
Professor Kalantar-zadeh, one of the authors said,
Because it’s super porous, water passes through very rapidly. Lead and other heavy metals have a very high affinity to aluminium oxide. As the water passes through billions of layers, each one of these lead ions get attracted to one of these aluminium oxide sheets.
But at the same time, it’s very safe because with repeated use, the water flow cannot detach the heavy metal ions from the aluminium oxide.
Application of Discovery
Professor Kalantar-zadeh believes the technology could be used in Africa and Asia, both places where heavy metal ions in the water are at levels well beyond safe human consumption. It is estimated that 790 million people, or one in 10 of the Earth’s population, do not have access to clean water.
Currently, available portable filtration products that do not remove heavy metals from water, often cost more than $100. By contract, aluminum oxide filters produced from liquid gallium could be produced for as little as 10 cents, making them attractive to prospective manufacturers.
The concept is being published and released to the public domain so people around the world can use the idea for free and implement it to enhance the quality of their lives.