Quantum water desalination: Water generation through separate pathways for protons and hydroxide ions in membranes

A Rayabharam and NR Aluru, JOURNAL OF APPLIED PHYSICS, 132, 194302 (2022).

DOI: 10.1063/5.0122324

Much of the water desalination strategies has focused on designing pores and membranes that transport water and reject ions and other molecules at a high rate. In this paper, we discuss an approach where protons (H+) and hydroxide (OH-) ions are transported via different mechanisms through a porous membrane, and subsequently, once they have been transported through the membrane, they recombine to generate water. 2D materials such as graphene and MoS2 have generated significant interest for applications such as desalination. Here, we explore the applicability of one such 2D material-a cubic Ti2C MXene membrane-in desalination by creating a OH- ion selective pore, which significantly suppresses protons but allows OH- ions and water to go through. The catalytic properties of MXenes enable the dissociation of water on the surface, and the dissociated protons translocate through the membrane via quantum-dominated phenomena such as hopping from interstitial-to- interstitial. OH- ions translocate through a positively charged pore and recombine with protons on the other side of the membrane to form water. Our results indicate that water molecules generated via quantum processes can significantly enhance the overall transport of water across the membrane. Published under an exclusive license by AIP Publishing.

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