Graphene filter (via University of Manchester)
Of all the uses of graphene, there is none more surprising than using it for alcohol distillation. Researchers from the University of Manchester (UK) have found that membranes made with graphene-oxide have impermeable qualities that prevent gasses and liquids from passing through them. On the other hand, water can easily pass through it when it evaporates as if the membrane wasn’t there at all.
The team, led by Dr. Rahul Nair, unexpectedly discovered their findings while conducting tests that involved taking sheets of graphene-oxide and using them to cover metal containers containing various liquids and gases that included helium. They then tested to see if any of the substances were permeable with extremely sensitive equipment. Nothing was detected until they tried ordinary water. What they found is that when the water was vaporized it could pass through the membrane like it wasn’t even there.
Nair explains that it can do this because the graphene sheets are arranged in such a way that there is enough space between them for a 1-molecule thick layer of water molecules to pass between. He states that the membrane’s ‘capillaries’ shrink when subjected to low humidity, which prevents molecules other than water from escaping (hence waters effectiveness). For a joke, the team then tried testing vodka and found that it became stronger the longer the evaporation process was performed. While none of the team drinks vodka, it soon became apparent that the new graphene-oxide membrane could have practical applications. Aside from making everyone's drink for effective, this also may make refining ethanol and other fuels easier and more cost effective in the future.
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