Engineered polymer membranes could be new option for water treatment

Read the full story from Notre Dame.

The world’s freshwater resources are in short supply. According to the United Nations, water scarcity affects an estimated 1.9 billion people and 2.1 billion people live with drinking water services that are not safely managed. The critical point of water scarcity has led scientists to look for new and efficient ways to make the most of nontraditional sources, including sea water, brackish water and wastewater.

Polymer membranes, which act as a filter to desalinate and selectively remove contaminants from various water sources, have aided water treatment, but their selectivity remains a significant challenge when it comes to filtering chemical properties — a potential risk to the environment and human health.

Chemical and biomolecular engineers at the University of Notre Dame and Purdue University studied self-assembled block polymer membranes, which allow for both customizable and uniform pore sizes, as a platform for water treatment systems. The study, published in Nature Partner Journals — Clean Water, determined the platform has the potential to advance water treatment technologies.

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