A Potential New Solution to the Water Crisis

Sheindl Berger '20

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Scientists in Australia and Texas may have discovered a way to filter salt water in order to make it drinkable. After the Ma’ayanot Environmental Committee’s fundraiser for the residents of Cape Town, we are all aware of the dangers facing people that live in places where water is scarce. This new technology could provide water to millions of people living in these conditions. It can make seawater drinkable, by using metal-organic frameworks to filter out salt and unwanted ions, according to Science Daily and Wikipedia.
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are porous chemical compounds that can temporarily contain other compounds within them. Scientists found out that they can act like organic cells in the way that they filter different ions. This quality could have many applications, such as purifying and extracting metals from water. It would also be significantly cheaper and more efficient than any process already in place. MOFs could desalinate the water, as well as selectively filter lithium ions, which are currently in high demand for batteries.
Besides seawater, this technology could help restore contaminated water sources. Filtering out the waste would not only purify the streams, but the waste itself could be used for practical purposes. Much of it is, again, lithium; the current techniques for obtaining lithium soon might not be able to keep up with demand, due to inefficiency and expense.
The filtering qualities of MOFs could revolutionize both water conservation and lithium mining. It could purify seawater or restore natural resources in a cheaper and more efficient way than any current technology. It is not only Cape Town that is running out of drinkable water; two billion people around the world are facing this challenge, as well. This potential new purification technique could save millions of lives, with the added benefit of providing necessary ions for our electronics.
However, all of these applications are still under development. Researchers in Melbourne and Austin, Texas, are still figuring out all that MOFs can do. They have already discovered their filtering properties and have conjectured about possible applications, but now they must adapt them to fit the world’s needs. This will hopefully prove to be a viable solution for the people facing total lack of drinkable water.
The water crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing our generation. Climate change is a real and dangerous phenomenon, and it has been left to us to fix it. We will be the adults, scientists, governors, and philanthropists when parts of the world become uninhabitable. Even now, while we still toil away in high school, there are people just like us that do not know when their next drink of water will be. Any research in water sources will set the foundation for what we will have to do when we are older. This is imperative for ourselves and all human beings, and we should be directing more resources towards saving people affected by climate change.

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Ma'ayanot Yeshiva High School
A Potential New Solution to the Water Crisis