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Efficient water management

​​Nanomaterials, a variety of applications

Published on 30 January 2017
When it comes to building sustainable societies and supporting economic competitiveness, water is a vital resource.

Demand for water is on the rise amid a growing global population and changing climate. In many parts of the world, water shortages are already a reality. There is simply not enough water to meet the demands of homes, farms, and factories. When it comes to public health and economic development, access to water and efficient water-treatment systems are emerging as major challenges. The use of nanomaterials can support innovative solutions that can help treat wastewater and provide clean drinking water, for more sustainable overall water management.


To overcome today's pressing water-related challenges will require a big-picture approach and integrated solutions that take into account the needs of homes, farms, and factories.

Seawater is desalinated using nanoporous membrane filtration methods to produce drinking water. The technology can also be used to remove organic and biological pollutants (including viruses) from wastewater. The membranes used to filter water are made from nanoporous ceramics or fluorinated polymers with nanopores that are surface-treated using nanostructuring techniques to make them hydrophilic. Nanoporous membranes require two to four times less energy to filter water than traditional filtration membranes. Nano titanium dioxide is used in photo-oxidation processes to purify water, removing both pollutants and organic matter. Iron nanoparticles are used to remove the arsenic naturally present in surface water, making it safe to drink (in places like Bangladesh and northern Chile). ​