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Pure Carbon Graphene Can Distill Vodka

Updated on January 28, 2012
Artistic impression of a corrugated graphene sheet
Artistic impression of a corrugated graphene sheet | Source

One of the British Nobel prize winning scientists who created wonder substance graphene, has discovered that it can also distill vodka at room temperatures.

Graphene is pure carbon that is only a single atom thick, and forms honeycomb sheets that scientists hope will have many uses in industry due to its unique and amazing properties, and learning its potential use in the drinks industry by its ability to distill vodka is just another of the incredible properties graphene has.

Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov jointly won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 for their discovery of graphene, through taking the tiniest shavings from a lead pencil. Their findings were initially reported in a scientific paper in 2004.

They have both since been awarded knighthoods for their work.

Following an award of £50 million ($65 million) from the British government to continue their work, the team developed graphene oxide from which they were able to make a strong, flexible but very thin laminate.

This latest discovery shows that sheets of graphene oxide block the passage of all liquids and gases, except water.

Sir Andre is quoted as saying

'Helium gas is hard to stop. It slowly leaks even through a millimetre-thick window glass but our ultra-thin films completely block it. At the same time, water evaporates through them unimpeded. Materials cannot behave any stranger.'

Co-author of their report which was published in the journal "Science", Dr Rahul Nair said

'Just for a laugh, we sealed a bottle of vodka with our membranes and found that the distilled solution became stronger and stronger with time, Neither of us drinks vodka but it was great fun to do the experiment.'

Further tests carried out by the team led by Sir Andre have shown that water can permeate through sheets of graphene as if it wasn't even there while all other substances are held back.

This opens up the possibility of sheets of wafer thin graphene, slimmer than a human hair, being used for water purification or even de-salination, thereby eliminating the whole world's water shortage problem.

What is Graphene?

What special properties does graphene have?

  • Graphene conducts electricity as well as copper
  • it conducts heat better than all other known substances
  • graphene electrons travel immense distances in unison, opening up the possibility of ultra-fast computing
  • Quasi-particles produced by graphene can travel at almost the speed of light, opening up the possibility of space travel
  • graphene properties are better suited to transistors than silicon
  • it is stronger than diamond
  • it is flexible

When it comes to graphene, this single molecule layer of pure carbon interlocked together in a honeycomb pattern, we may find our world changed forever, and for the better.

Everything we learn about graphene seems to be heart-stoppingly amazing.

Knowing it can distill vodka at room temperatures seems dull in comparison with the bright new world graphene promises to bring us.

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