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  Researchers from Singapore's Ngee Ann Polytechnic has created a nano-fibre-based membrane system for sea water distillation system. It is believed to be the first application of nano-fibre technology for sea water distillation. The research team had secure two patents for the membrane and for the process itself. The new system is called Distil and can produce more than 200 litres of desalinated water per hour or around 5,000 litres a day.

While most membrane-based distillation systems work on the basis of water transfer, the Distil system's nano-fibre membrane are hydrophobic - it repels water. The Distil System's membranes allow only pure water vapour to pass through. So it is able to produce fresh water which is purer than those produced by other type of membrane-based distillation systems.

The Distil System is designed to be powered by solar energy. In the process, sea water is firsted heated by solar thermal collectors while solid particles are filtered away. The sea water is next channelled to the nano-fibre membranes where only pure water vapour can pass through. The water vapour is then condensed and collected.

The research team estimated that the system can desalineate sea water with an energy consumption of less than 1.5 kilowatts per hour per cubic metre of water. That is almost half the energy as compared to conventional reverse osmosis systems. The pure water recovery from sea water is around 60 to 80 percent as compared to 30 to 50 percent for conventional reverse osmosis systems.

Separately, scientists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a material that promises to reduce by three times the amount of energy needed for treatment of seawater. The material, Multi-use Titanium Dioxide, can be produced cheaply and in abundance. Multi-use Titanium Dioxide has been scientifically proven to accelerate photocatalysis, the chemical reaction that turns waste water into hydrogen and oxygen under sunlight while still producing clean potable water. The material can also be used to help recover energy from desalination waste brine, as well as to double the useful lifespan of lithium ion batteries, the scientists claimed. They are now exploring how to bring the material to the market.