The access to clean water is essential for our everyday life and a requirement for staying healthy. The fact that roughly 97% of the water on earth is salty seawater would make a technique with the possibility to turn saltwater into clean drinkable freshwater highly desirable. The objective of this proposed research is to develop a state-of-the-art desalination technology, which can efficiently remove ions from saltwater and turn it into pure drinkable freshwater. The technology is based on a biomimicing approach utilizing our knowledge on how cells can control the flow of ions across its cell boundary. Such control is regulated through transmembrane proteins, so called, aquaporins that are functioning as valves located in the cell membrane. The engineering of such systems into functional devices is, however, difficult to achieve due to problems associated with the stability of the membrane. The design that we propose for constructing such a stable membrane consists of ordered mesoporous silica having a biologically active tethered lipid bilayer membrane functionalized surface. The lipid bilayer will host reconstituted aquaporins functioning as selective valves for water passage having a high selectivity letting only pure water through. Within the time frame of the project fundamental experiments with the purpose of developing and optimizing the technology will be performed with the final goal of constructing a fully functional device.
Full Professor at Chalmers, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Applied Chemistry, Applied Surface Chemistry
Funding Chalmers participation during 2013–2016