electricidadaguaUn proceso que depura las aguas residuales y genera electricidad también puede eliminar el 90 por ciento de la sal de las aguas salobres o de mar, según un equipo internacional de investigadores de China y EE.UU.

El agua pura para beber, lavar y para usos industriales es un recurso escaso en algunas partes del mundo. Su disponibilidad en el futuro será aún más problemática.

En muchos lugares ya se desala el agua usando alguno de los dos procesos más comunes.

Uno es el de ósmosis inversa. En este proceso, se fuerza el paso del agua bajo altas presiones a través de membranas que no permiten el paso de la sal.
El otro proceso es el de la electrodiálisis. En él, se usa la electricidad para extraer los iones de sal del agua a través de una membrana.

El problema es que ambos métodos requieren grandes cantidades de energía.

Los autores del nuevo trabajo apuestan por un mejor enfoque: La desalinización del agua puede hacerse sin gasto de energía eléctrica y sin aplicar altas presiones, gracias a usar una fuente de materia orgánica como combustible para desalinizar el agua.

Actualmente, se consume mucha electricidad para desalinizar el agua. Con el método desarrollado por Bruce Logan, Profesor de Ingeniería Ambiental en la Universidad Estatal de Pensilvania, y su equipo, podría desalinizarse el agua y producir electricidad mientras se elimina la materia orgánica de las aguas residuales.

Los investigadores ya han preparado y puesto a prueba un prototipo, a modo de demostración del concepto. Ahora habrá que perfeccionarlo para garantizar que tenga un buen rendimiento.

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