- UCD and Northeastern University extend and deepen long-standing partnership with five collaborative research projects
- EPA announces €14.3M in new research funding
- Arup Scholarship Awards 2024
- UCD names new Vice-President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
- Project promoting safe staffing in the healthcare system wins UCD Research Impact Competition
- VOICE Project Launches to Shape Tomorrow's Sustainability
- Teachers for the Planet Programme
- Exploring Futures in Engineering and Architecture- UCD January Open Days
- Information Session: UCD Prof. Cert in Digital Facility Layout Planning
- UCD-led space project receives over €7.9m from Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund
- UCD Researchers awarded over €4m in ERC grants for Biomedical Engineering and Political Economy projects
- Highly Cited: Professor Da-Wen Sun & Professor Paula Bourke listed amongst 2023’s most influential researchers
- ESTEEM Graduate Programme
- Electrical Engineering Class of 1968
- €257,000 allocated to 24 UCD projects in STEM Challenge Fund
- ERC Starting Grants Awarded to UCD Researchers in Humanities and Engineering
- Prof Niall English receives ERC Advanced Grant to optimise nanobubble technology for diverse end applications
- ERC Proof of Concept Grant for UCD Researcher exploring macromolecular crowding in cell culture systems
- SDG Academy and University College Dublin launch new Master’s Pathway in Foundations of Sustainable Development
- Engineers Ireland Accreditation May 31st 2023
- UCD researcher receives ERC funding to unlock insights into pig-to-human heart transplants
- Biomedical Engineering Innovator Receives 2023 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award
- Inventor of Disruptive Biosensors with Industrial Bioprocessing Applications Receives 2023 NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award
- seamlessCARE Receives 2023 NovaUCD Spin-Out of the Year Award
- Prof Francesco Pilla launches new bike libraries for Dublin primary schools
- Launch of WATSON Project at UCD
- UCD's Livija Vasilenkaite - First Prize Winner #ThisIsEngineering2023
- Minister Harris and Commissioner McGuinness announce first recipients under the €65M National Challenge Fund
- Séamus McDermott receives his Honorary Doctorate
- Ten Days in the Ruhr - A Student Engineer's Diary (1952) - The Final Days
- Ten Days in the Ruhr - A Student Engineer's Diary (1952) - Part 3
- Ten Days in the Ruhr - A Student Engineer's Diary (1952) - Part 2
- College researchers recognised in UCD Research Impact Competition
- Ten Days in the Ruhr - A Student Engineer's Diary (1952)
- Arup Scholarship Presentation 2022
- UCD wins Higher Education Partnership of the Year Award at the Asia Matters Business Awards
- Dr Amiya Pandit wins the Thomas Mitchell Medal
- RIBA Stirling Prize 2022
- 2022 News Archive
- 2021 News Archive
- 2020 News Archive
- 2019 News Archive
- 2018 News Archive
- 2017 News Archive
- 2016 News Archive
- Building the State
- A Centenary Celebration
Electric-field boost to water flow potentially offers alternative water treatment technology
Thursday, 19 October, 2017
- Electric field doubles flow of water through naturally occurring water channel
- Aquaporin proteins regulate water flow in human body and are found in all life forms
Applying an electric field to water in a naturally occurring protein substantially boosts the flow of the liquid and opens up the possibility of delivering more efficient water treatment technology, according to a study co-authored by UCD academics.
The research found that applying circularly polarised electric fields to water in human membrane-protein channels, known as aquaporin 4, resulted in “electro-pumping” that doubles the flow of water through the biological channels.
Aquaporins (AQP) are proteins that channel water in all known life forms and are crucial to the regulation of water in organs and cells.
The study published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters was co-authored by Professor Niall English, UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, and Dr Christian J Burnham, formerly UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering.
The investigators used a molecular dynamics simulation to study what effect the application of the external force of an electric field would have on the permeability – or flow of water – through an aquaporin.
Circularly polarised (CP) electric fields rotate in a propeller-like manner. The investigators found that when applied to water molecules’ the rotational or propeller-like momentum of the CP field thrusts water into linear or forward momentum.
The application of the electric CP fields resulted in what they described as “electro-pumping”, which doubled the flow of water through the aquaporin.
The analyses also found that salt molecules in salt water are too large to exit the aquaporins, and, as a result, the process also provides a method of desalinating water.
“What is novel [in this study] is our ability to control and manipulate the amount and the speed and rate at which water is permeating through the membrane,” said Professor Niall English.
“We can double the rate of permeability of the water through aquaporins using CP fields.”
The authors concluded that the “electro-pumping” raises the “breakthrough possibility of rotating-field enhancement and control over water permeability in aquaporins, or other biochannels as a potentially viable and competitive water treatment technology”.
The paper is entitled (opens in a new window)“Electropumping of Water Through Human Aquaporin 4 by Circularly Polarized Electric Fields: Dramatic Enhancement and Control Revealed by Non-Equilibrium Molecular Dynamics”.
By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations