With more than 70% of the Earth's surface covered by water, it can be surprising to learn that water scarcity is a real problem many third world countries face. It certainly doesn't help that the majority of that water is saltwater that must go through a costly and lengthy purification process before it can be of any use. Luckily, researchers at Stanford University may be one step closer to cheap, efficient desalination process.
Traditional methods of seawater purification involve either reverse osmosis or evaporation. Unfortunately, both of those methods require massive amounts of energy in order to power the heaters and high-pressure pumps. The alternative method being researched at Stanford involves an electrochemical cell that can desalinate seawater. The battery system works by pulling ions from the water through a pair of electrodes which separate sodium ions and chloride ions.
Although the current prototype was only able to remove 50% of the original salt, the researchers are working to reach a 98% desalination for safe drinking. The battery is promising, but there are still quite a few kinks that need to be worked out before it can be deployed for large-scale seawater processing. For more information on the project, you can read the publication here.