Imagine a tank with seawater on one side and pure water on the other, separated by a filter with billions of tiny holes. Lots of pressure on the salty side pushes water through faster than the salt, so fresh water comes out the other end.
The problem is that current filters use plastic polymers that require an immense amount of energy (800 to 1,000 pounds per square inch of pressure) to push water through.
Lockheed has developed a special material that doesn't need as much energy to drag water through the filter.
This special material is a film of a special structure of carbon, a honeycomb lattice called graphene. Because of its structure, the sheet is dotted with holes that are one nanometer or less. These holes between carbon atoms trap the salt and other impurities.
Graphene researchers won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for developing the wonder-material.
In addition, the film is super thin — just a single atom thick — so that the water simply "pops through the very, very small holes that we make in the graphene and leaves the salt behind," John Stetson, the chief technologist at Lockheed for this initiative told Business Insider.