Shock waves fired repeatedly into water samples can remove dissolved salts, according to A Sivakumar and Martin Britto Dhas of the Sacred Heart College in Tirupattur, India. The researchers say that the effect involves a cavitation-based nucleation mechanism that could be useful for the pretreatment of water at desalination plants. However, not everyone is convinced by their findings.

When supersonic shock waves pass through liquids, they can trigger cavitation and create tiny bubbles that then collapse and trigger liquid-to-solid phase transformations.

“The phase transformation rate is associated with physicochemical parameters such as pressure, temperature, ionic strength, velocity of waves, degree of supersaturation, non-equilibrium thermodynamics of the medium and the kinetics of the nucleation phase,” write Sivakumar and Dhas in the Journal of Applied Crystallography.

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