Water purification is necessary whether hiking the trails, living off the grid or managing a city’s water plant. A number of techniques are used every day for eliminating particulates and microbes from water. However, the Rochester Institute of Technology recently introduced a new method using carbon nanotubes.
Carbon in the form of graphite is used to make lead pencils. When exposed to extreme pressure, carbon forms diamonds. However, researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology transform common graphite into graphene, which is rolled into minute, single-walled tubes. Each tube is reported as being approximately 50,000 times smaller than the width of a typical human hair.
The process involves creating the tubes. Then the researchers sort through the creations to isolate the tubes having the greatest degree of semi-conductivity. The tubes are arranged or aligned into thin papers. The papers have the ability to absorb a number of contaminants found in water. The carbon nanotubes do not conduct water. Thus, only the contaminants attach to the tubes while the water easily flows through.
The innovation goes against the rules of physics and is part of quantum mechanics where small items boast huge properties. The way in which the material was created naturally endows it with electrical and heat conductivity. RIT developed the technology to be used for environmental decontamination or for the average homeowner. In the home, cleaning a nanotube filter requires merely putting the paper in the microwave for approximately five minutes to annihilate and evaporate any impurities.
The size and properties of carbon nanotubes make the technology useful in a variety of applications. Scientists from North Carolina State University developed the means of using carbon nanotubes in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries. The implication being that the nanotubes could increase the charge capacity of the batteries up to 10 times.
In the health care field, nanotubes might be used on the surface of implants, as bone has been shown to attach more readily to the substance than traditional titanium. Other implications include injecting the tubes beneath the skin to monitor nitric oxide, which is a chemical substance that dilates blood vessels. Certain levels of the gas also indicate the presence of inflammation.
Artificial muscles crafted with embedded nanotubes could increase strength by up to 200 times. Nanotubes harboring antibodies or other chemotherapy agents have the ability to detect or treat cancer without harming surrounding tissues.