Researchers Discover New Method to Make Saltwater Safe for Drinking

Category : Technology/Innovations

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. potable / ˈpoʊ tə bəl / (adj) – suitable for drinking

    Some people boil tap water to make it potable.

  2. porous / ˈpɔr əs / (adj) – filled with small holes that air or liquids can pass through

    Sponges can filter water because they are porous.

  3. brackish / ˈbræk ɪʃ / (adj) – having a somewhat salty flavor

    Brackish water may not be safe to drink.

  4. sediment / ˈsɛd ə mənt / (n) – small particles of material that settle at the bottom of liquids

    After it rained, there was a huge amount of sediment at the bottom of the well.

  5. desalination / diːˌsælɪˈneɪʃən / (n) – the process of removing salt from water

    Seawater needs to go through desalination before it becomes safe for drinking.


Read the text below.

Experts from Monash University in Australia have come up with a method that can turn saltwater into safe drinking water in just a few minutes.

The new method was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) because it was able to produce purified water with a total dissolved solids (TDS) volume of less than 500 parts per million, indicating that the water is safe for consumption. The TDS volume measures the number of particles in drinking water and tells whether it is potable or not.

To come up with the new method, the researchers used a type of crystal called a metal-organic framework (MOF), along with sunlight, to purify water. This porous crystal removes salt from brackish water or seawater that passes through it. The purification process can be completed in just half an hour.

After filtering water, the MOF can be cleaned and reused by exposing it to sunlight. It takes only four minutes to remove the salt and sediment that the MOF soaked up.

Professor Huanting Wang, the study’s lead researcher, stated that their team’s desalination method is energy-efficient and eco-friendly because it depends on sunlight, which is the most abundant source of energy. He compared it with other desalination methods such as evaporation, which uses a huge amount of energy to heat up and purify saltwater.

Wang added that the process is safe and does not put the health of marine life at risk because unlike many other water purification processes, the new method does not use harmful chemicals.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think this method can help solve water shortages? Why or why not?
• Would you be willing to drink water that was produced using the MOF? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Aside from water, what other necessities can be made more accessible through technology (e.g. food)? Discuss.
• How should technology be used to improve those necessities (e.g. by enhancing nutrients in food)? Discuss.

Category : Technology/Innovations