Researchers from the University of New South Wales, Australia have developed a graphene technology that is able to generate sustainable energy in municipal wastewater treatment plants. Graphene is an allotrope of carbon in the form of a single layer of atoms in a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice in which one atom forms each vertex. Graphene has a special set of properties which set it apart from other allotropes of carbon. In proportion to its thickness, it is about 100 times stronger than the strongest steel. Yet its density is dramatically lower than any other steel (7,750 and 8,050 kg/m3), with a density of 2.267 kg/m3. It conducts heat and electricity very efficiently and is nearly transparent. Graphene has been used to improve the quality of drinking water,  and recently has been discovered to be able to purify methane from biogas produced in wastewater.  Researchers discovered atom-thick graphene membranes can separate gas mixtures with a high efficiency. Gas separation usually takes place with the use of synthetic membranes made from polymers. The single layer graphene membrane is the latest thing which uses molecular sized pores to allow different sized gas molecules to pass through. The progress of this technology is limited by the difficulty in scale up. The first difficulty is in the methodology to incorporate molecular-sized pores into the layer of graphene in a uniform manner and the second difficulty is for actually manufacturing mechanically robust layers which are crack and tear free, large area membranes. Researchers from EPFL Valais Wallis, Switzerland have developed a large-area, single-layer graphene membrane that can separate hydrogen from methane with a high-efficiency (separation factor 0f 25%), by an unprecedented hydrogen permeance through a porosity that was only 0.025%.  This membrane contains nanopores which allow hydrogen to permeate through leaving methane by itself. This is known as gas sieving. The membrane is capable of withstanding pressures of 7 bar and 250 C which are industrial relevant pressures and temperatures. Researchers reported the ability to produce a membrane that is 1 square mm which is significantly larger than previously reported. This means the manufacturing technique was capable of producing a few square microns without cracks. The current effort being made is to incorporate a higher density of nanopores into the graphene to make this technology realizable. This technology from wastewater would be a method to obtaining methane from renewable sources, a virtually unlimited source of methane for methane powered busses and cars.
- Y. You et al. Application of graphene oxide membranes for removal of natural organic matter from water, Carbon (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2017.12.032
- Shiqi Huang et al. Single-layer graphene membranes by crack-free transfer for gas mixture separation, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-04904-3
The Spiritual insights that we receive from the scientific research is in this important process of separation that the Lord God is doing in our lives according to the Torah. The Lord said to Moshe, Shemot / Exodus 34:10-14, י וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי כֹּרֵת בְּרִית נֶגֶד כָּל-עַמְּךָ אֶעֱשֶֹה נִפְלָאֹת אֲשֶׁר לֹא-נִבְרְאוּ בְכָל-הָאָרֶץ וּבְכָל-הַגּוֹיִם וְרָאָה כָל-הָעָם אֲשֶׁר-אַתָּה בְקִרְבּוֹ אֶת-מַעֲשֵֹה יְהוָֹה כִּי-נוֹרָא הוּא אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי עֹשֶֹה עִמָּךְ: יא שְׁמָר-לְךָ אֵת אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם הִנְנִי גֹרֵשׁ מִפָּנֶיךָ אֶת-הָאֱמֹרִי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַחִתִּי וְהַפְּרִזִּי וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי: יב הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן-תִּכְרֹת בְּרִית לְיוֹשֵׁב הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה בָּא עָלֶיהָ פֶּן-יִהְיֶה לְמוֹקֵשׁ בְּקִרְבֶּךָ: יג כִּי אֶת-מִזְבְּחֹתָם תִּתֹּצוּן וְאֶת-מַצֵּבֹתָם תְּשַׁבֵּרוּן וְאֶת-אֲשֵׁרָיו תִּכְרֹתוּן: יד כִּי לֹא תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לְאֵל אַחֵר כִּי יְהוָֹה קַנָּא שְׁמוֹ אֵל קַנָּא הוּא: 34:10 Then God said, ‘Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you. 34:11 ‘Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. 34:12 ‘Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. 34:13 ‘But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim 34:14 for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. (NASB) Notice how the Lord proclaims that He will perform mighty and powerful miracles in the midst of the people of God. He will also go forth before Israel and drive out the enemy ahead of them. This is the way the Lord distinguishes His people from everyone else by saying, נֶגֶד כָּל-עַמְּךָ אֶעֱשֶֹה נִפְלָאֹת “I will perform miracles in full view of your whole people the like of which I have never performed on earth.” The important principle to understand here is not just that the Lord God is going to work a miracle for us if we ask, but that we are in a covenant relationship with God and are living our lives according to His ways and His words. Just as Pesach (Passover) brought about the deliverance from bondage and slavery, and Shavuot (feast of weeks) was the giving of the Torah of God to His people, the feast of Succot represents the 40 year journey in the wilderness living in temporary huts with the Lord God Almighty dwelling in the midst of His people. The Lord God of Israel entering into our lives, into our midst to guide and direct us into His ways of truth, justice, holiness, and righteousness. The miracle of God in our life is a byproduct of His having separated us from the world. Multiple examples may be found in the Scriptures related to the miracles of God. In Shemot / Exodus 34:10, the miracles and wonders that would be performed in the midst of the congregation, one of the ways in which this was fulfilled was in the way the Lord worked in the rebellion of Korach, fire from heaven consuming 250 men and the company of people who joined themselves with Korah went down to the grave alive as the ground opened up and swallowed them all alive. (Bamidbar / Numbers 16:29-30) Note how this was not a positive miracle, but one of the judgments of the people due to their sins. This illustrates for us the concept of miracles may be either a positive or a negative thing in our lives. The promise of God was that He would personally go with His people and give his people a mark of distinction. This mark of distinction is how the Lord will change His people from within such that they will love Him, they will serve Him, and they will live their lives according to His Word. (Devarim / Deuteronomy 30:6) Those who rebel against God’s ways, against His Torah, should not expect a blessing, the miraculous work in this case is meant to draw one back to repentance and return. On the other hand, the positive miracle of God, this promise according to Sforno states “הנה אנכי כורת ברית, ‘I will make/cut a covenant,’ to be in your midst. Compare Megillah 29 when the Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia the presence of the Lord was ‘exiled’ together with them, i.e. accompanied them; when they were exiled to Eylam the same was true. Even when they were exiled to Edom (by the Romans) this remained true.” (Sforno on Shemot / Exodus 34:10 Part 1) The rabbinic interpretation is that the presence of God never left the people, as he stated that He will never leave nor forsake us. (see Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:6) The rabbis also discuss this phrase of being in the midst of the people, and of working miracles, as the distinctive acts God will perform, and all of the people seeing this in their midst, these wonderful acts He would perform would be the result of His special relationship with Moshe. (Tur HaAroch on Shemot / Exodus 34:10 Part 2) Note again, the Scriptures say this is a fearful thing! The reason is due to the nature of rebellion or obedience, whether this is a negative or positive, respectively. The question for us today is “do I see the Lord God working miracles in my life each day as He had promised according to the Torah?” The idea here is the people would be beneficiaries due to the relationship between Moshe and the God of Israel because of the covenant. Note a remark that is made here, the Lord God will perform even greater miracles than what he had performed already in the past. This sounds very familiar doesn’t it? The NT account provides us with a very similar account to our faith in Yeshua, believing in what He has done, and because of God’s special relationship with Yeshua we are the beneficiaries in the covenant. So again we should be asking ourselves, “Do I see the Lord God Almighty working miracles in my life each day as He had promised according to the Torah, and Yeshua’s words?” Yeshua said in John 14:12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (NASB) In the Scriptures, these things at many times was the result of the pursuit of holiness. This is why the ancients chose to live ascetic lives (self discipline and abstinence) in their seeking the God in heaven. This is the basic concept behind fasting and prayer! In Hebrew, the word kedushah means to sanctify or set apart. This is where we get the word for holy (kadosh), and sanctify (kiddush), or to sanctify the Name (kaddish), etc. The word kadosh designates the environment of the sacred that is radically different from this world, it represents a separation from all the world’s sinful and profane ways. The idea of that which is holy (set apart, kadosh) implies differentiation, to make a distinction, something that is different, all of these concepts are what is being spoken of here in both the Torah and by Yeshua. The Lord God Himself is utterly unique, distinct, sacred, and different as the only one of His kind, and there are no others. The Scriptures state that He alone is worthy to be worshipped, adored, and glorified, and He is without rival, and he stands alone as the creator and Lord. (Shemot / Exodus 3:15) Notice in the scientific research, in order for these gases to become functionally important, they must be separated. Holiness according to the torah is more than simply a psycho-emotional separation. (This isn’t something we do just in our minds or hearts, holiness is meant to permeate all of our lives!) This is an actual separation from what is common, or evil. Holiness implies absolute moral goodness and perfection. Holiness is opposed to what is profane, therefore the Lord hates what opposes and violates what He calls sacred. The call to holiness is given throughout Scripture, a few references, Vayikra / Leviticus 19:2 You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. (NASB), Vayikra / Leviticus 20:7 Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. (NASB), and Vayikra / Leviticus 20:26 You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. (NASB) These calls to holiness are the reason why God’s people cannot be in a relationship with Him if they are engaged in idolatrous and sinful practices. The people of God are called to be separated from all that is unrighteous and unholy (see Vayikra / Leviticus 11:44-45). This command to holiness and righteousness is given based upon what we see here in regards to the Lord separating us from the nations, and His living and working in our lives! (Vayikra / Leviticus 20:26) These are the things the graphene technologies are revealing to us today. Notice how this is a very difficult technology to develop and it requires exact precision. Holiness on our part is a function of the Lord God working in our lives! If we do not see a desire to draw near to the Lord God in heaven, and to live our lives according to His Word, which is the very act of holiness and righteousness, then we need to ask ourselves whether we truly believe in the One true God and His Messiah? Do I have Yeshua in my heart? Do I have the Spirit of God in my midst (in my heart)? Do I see the Father God in heaven working in my life? These are the very things the apostles taught in the Apostolic Writings! In conclusion, let’s take a few examples from the Apostolic Writings.
1 Peter 1:13-16
1:13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 1:15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 1:16 because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ (NASB)
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 6:11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 6:13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 6:14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 6:16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her For He says, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’ 6:17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 6:20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (NASB)
These NT scriptures repeat the call to holiness. In 1 Peter 1, the call to holiness is based upon the hope that will be brought to us at the revelation of Yeshua in the last days. This is coupled to turning from our former lusts and sins! Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6 outlining the moral constraints that mark the people of God as separate from the world. If one is actively practicing these sinful things, the presence of God will only be available for turning the sinner to repentance and turning from sin. The only miracle will be to turn the heart of the unrepentant to repentance. The intimacy of our bodies with the Spirit of God is found in 1 Corinthians 6:13-17, the context is not about doing away with the laws of kashrut, but to the sanctity of the body, its holiness in regards to immorality. Believers in Yeshua are to be free from sin that is so prevalent in this current age and our culture, such as immorality, and idolatry, slander, etc, the list could go on and on. As important as this scientific research is on the separation of gases and renewable resources, we who believe in Yeshua the Messiah are not exempt from the call to be separate from the world in the sense of the call to personal holiness as God has defined it! If we do not pursue holiness and righteousness in our lives, we will not be of use to God, just as we see in the research on the functionality of these gases needing to be separated from one another. We too are separated upon placing our faith in Yeshua. Now is the difficult work of living for Him! Yeshua holds us up to a very high standard, a standard that is defined according to God’s Torah! Thank God He has given us His presence in our lives to help us every step of the way!