Water filtration membranes are an incredibly complex creation which use pores that are mere nanometers wide to filter out chemicals. One chemical that researchers have struggled to filter is fluoride, a compound that can be helpful in small doses but cause serious disease if left unchecked. A team at Tufts University has begun experimenting with charged molecules to remove specific ions from water. The catch is that using charged molecules will remove all ions of the same charge, many of which are useful. For example, fluoride can be dangerous in high dosages, but chloride is very healthy in water. Both have the same charge.
Using a membrane with “zwitterionic” bonds, the team managed to filter out fluoride while keeping chloride in. Their long term goal is to make this method of filtration widely accessible. This would allow filtration companies to have flexibility in separation of ions. The scale of this breakthrough has yet to be seen, but the Tuft research team sees endless possibilities.
Read more about the research team at Tuft University and how they created a filtration membrane capable of selecting specific ions to hold back.