A new paper showing how water actually travels through a plastic membrane could make desalination more efficient. That’s good news for a thirsty world.
MENACHEM ELIMELECH NEVER made peace with reverse osmosis. Elimelech, who founded Yale’s environmental engineering program, is something of a rock star among those who develop filtration systems that turn seawater or wastewater into clean drinking water. And reverse osmosis is a rock star among filter technologies: It has dominated how the world desalinates seawater for about a quarter of a century. Yet nobody really knew how it worked. And Elimelech hated that.