New desalination membrane produces both drinking water and lithium. The key to the process is metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which boast the largest internal surface area of any known material. post
Reverse osmosis membranes are the most commonly-used technology for water filtration with pores are large enough for water molecules to pass through, but too small for most contaminants.
MOF membranes, on the other hand, can be more selective and efficient. The design was inspired by the "ion selectivity" of biological cell membranes, allowing the MOF material to dehydrate specific ions as they pass through. Better yet, these filters don't require water to be forced through, saving on energy use as well.
Ions left behind in the spongey structure are ready for the taking. For example, lithium ions are abundant in seawater, so this has implications for the mining industry who currently use inefficient chemical treatments to extract lithium from rocks and brines,