It's surprisingly hard to find safe drinking water on Earth--this on a planet covered in water. A new project by Lockheed Martin hopes to change that, and do it cheaply. Using a graphene filter, Lockheed hopes to transform salt water into drinking water by the end of the year.
The timing couldn't be better. Ending water scarcity is one of the United Nations's millenium development goals. But it is a daunting task: while there’s enough freshwater for everyone on earth, it isn’t very evenly distributed, and untangling that distribution is a Herculean feat. For the 44 percent of the world’s population that lives within a hundred miles of coasts, technology that can convert salt water into fresh water is an important alternative.
Desalination--that process of removing salt from water to make it drinkable--has been used for thousands of years. One problem: Removing salt from seawater is less efficient than starting from freshwater, and significantly more expensive.