From Science Daily
“Water desalination can be accomplished without electrical energy input or high water pressure by using a source of organic matter as the fuel to desalinate water,” the [Penn State researchers, Bruce Logan, Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering and Maha Mehanna postdoctoral fellow] report in a recent online issue of Environmental Science and Technology…
The team modified a microbial fuel cell — a device that uses naturally occurring bacteria to convert wastewater into clean water producing electricity — so it could desalinate salty water.
“Our main intent was to show that using bacteria we can produce sufficient current to do this,” said Logan. “However, it took 200 milliliters of an artificial wastewater — acetic acid in water — to desalinate 3 milliliters of salty water. This is not a practical system yet as it is not optimized, but it is proof of concept.”
A typical microbial fuel cell consists of two chambers, one filled with wastewater or other nutrients and the other with water, each containing an electrode. Naturally occurring bacteria in the wastewater consume the organic material and produce electricity.