We know very well how much water value in our lives and increasing population giving birth to a new problem of water scarcity globally. As we well know that only 3% of water on earth is available as freshwater in form of glaciers, polar ice caps and underwater rest in the form of sea water that is salty we cannot drink that water. We have access to an only tiny fraction of it. Freshwater access is a worldwide challenge.
In 2012, U.S intelligence report concluded that a freshwater shortage report will impact national security and by 2030, freshwater demand will increase by 40%. To overcome these issues, Elon Reeve Musk, CEO & CTO at SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) is planning to send people to Mars by 2025 after confirming the availability of water resources on Mars. Aleksandr Noy, Senior Research Scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, another person concerned about the freshwater resources, has devoted a new method removing salt from seawater by using carbon nanotubes instead of sending humans to Mars in search of water resources. So, now let’s discuss what are Carbon Nanotubes or CNT and how Google’s Exascale Power (going to discuss shortly) can be used to overcome the freshwater problem.
Carbon Nanotubes are carbon allotropes having a cylindrical nanostructure. These cylindrical carbon molecules have uncommon properties, that are valuable for technology, physics, optics and different fields of materials science and technology.Aleksandr Noy, nanotubes can act as desalination filters.It just depends on the opening of the nanotubes, how wide they are. They should be wide enough to pass the water molecules but small enough to hold to block the large salt particles that are unfit for drinking. The quiet amazing idea right, but it seems to be a Sci-fi.
But Noy experimented with nanotubes and the results were unbelievable. His team set up a simple filtration experiment and let it run overnight. Noys’s two assistants noticed a puddle (raindrops) on the lab floor in morning, small reservoir meant to catch water was overflowed due to rapid slipped off of water molecules from nanotubes. Later researchers confirmed that rate of flow of water was 6 times higher than traditional water filtration plants. Nanotubes are so tiny that they difficult to study in detail and practically too much costly and time-consuming to study different variations of nanotubes. So, the solution is modeling nanotubes on the computer and study their properties but nanotubes need a large computing power. So, Google has come up with a solution with its Exascale Power Computing.
Now, what is an Exascale power computing?An exascale is the next generation of Supercomputer. Crunching a quintillion (a billion) calculations per second is a new future that will be provided by exascale machines. The exascale machine will be 11 times faster than China’s Sunway TaihuLight, the fastest computer used today. We can think of 50 million laptop’s computer power on a single computer.Now, Lets back to our problem of water filtration. Exascale computer modeling will put these nanotubes into more focus, that will dramatically speed up nanotube desalination research. Not only desalination but exascale computers will also help in other research that needs excessive computing power like Drug Discovery, Weather Forecasting, etc. Yes, Drug Discovery a tailored made drug combination for each person out of millions of drugs.
Back at Aleksandr Noy load another nanotube membrane into a test cell, flip a switch and collect more data. Soon they—along with exascale computing—may change the lives of billions.