Scientists use water filter to turn whisky clear

As part of their research, scientists at the University of Manchester conducted a “fun Friday night experiment” during which they used a graphene water filter to turn Cognac and whisky clear.

Image: University of Manchester.

The team of scientists involved in the study were led by Professor Rahul Nair at the National Graphene Institute and School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science at The University of Manchester.

An ultra-thin membrane using graphene-oxide sheets were assembled in such a way that they were able to completely remove various organic dyes, dissolved in methanol, which were as small as a nanometre.

The membrane permitted the alcohol to pass through but trapped the larger molecules that gives the whisky its colour.

Professor Nair said that the clear whisky smelt like the original although unfortunately they were not able to consume it in the lab.“

“Just for a fun, we even filtered whisky and Cognac through the graphene-oxide membrane. The membrane allowed the alcohol to pass through but removed the larger molecules, which gives the amber colour. The clear whisky smells similar to the original whisky but we are not allowed to drink it in the lab, however it was a funny Friday night experiment!”

A graphic showing the different sized molecules and the Graphene oxide-membrane. Image: University of Manchester.

Dr. Su, who led the experiment, added: “The developed membranes are not only useful for filtering alcohol, but the precise sieve size and high flux open new opportunity to separate molecules from different organic solvents for chemical and pharmaceutical industries. This development is particularly important because most of the existing polymer-based membranes are unstable in organic solvents whereas the developed graphene-oxide membrane is highly stable”.

Graphene-oxide membranes have already been used by the National Graphene Institute to turn seawater into drinking water. The Manchester scientists, in their research, have now opened up further potential uses for the product which could see it used in the drinks industry in the future.

Graphene, an allotrope of carbon is known for its versatility and can be both hydrophobic and hydrophilic, stronger than steel, flexible, bendable and one million times thinner than a human hair.

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