Use of Carbon Nanotubes for Efficient Reverse Osmosis

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OPEN 2009
Richmond, California
Project Term:
01/01/2010 - 10/14/2011

Technology Description:

NanOasis Technologies is developing better membranes to filter salt from water during the reverse osmosis desalination process. Conventional reverse osmosis desalination processes pump water through a thin film membrane to separate out the salt. However, these membranes only provide modest water permeability, making the process highly energy intensive and expensive. NanOasis is developing membranes that consist of a thin, dense film with carbon nanotube pores that significantly enhance water transport, while effectively excluding the salt. Water can flow through the tiny pores of these carbon nanotubes quickly and with less pressure, drastically reducing the overall energy use and cost of the desalination process. In addition, NanOasis' technology was purported to not require any modifications to existing desalination plants, so it could be easily deployed.

Potential Impact:

If successful, NanOasis’ membrane technology could make the desalination process up to 10 times more permeable, reducing the energy costs associated with desalination by 30-50%.


Improving the reverse osmosis desalination process can help secure clean water for drinking, agricultural, and industrial applications and help the U.S. position regain its technological leadership in the area of water treatment.


Improving desalination and wastewater reuse could yield an estimated 290 trillion watts in energy savings over 10 years, corresponding to 177 million tons of CO2.


Inexpensive and reliable access to potable water could help drive U.S. economic growth for both agricultural and industrial purposes.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Dane Boysen
Project Contact:
Chris Kennedy
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