Scientists have created a device capable of extracting water from the air especially at low humidity levels, using solar power and low-grade heat from natural sunlight.
According to the findings of the report published in the Journal of Science by the researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Berkeley, the device is capable of harvesting 2.8 litres of water per kilogram of MOF daily at relative humidity levels as low as 20 per cent and requires no additional input of energy.
The report also disclosed that the device could one day provide “personalized water” to those in areas affected by chronic drought.
“This is a major breakthrough in the long-standing challenge of harvesting water from the air at low humidity,” said Omar Yaghi from Berkeley, who along with colleague Evelyn Wang from MIT created the revolutionary tech.
He further said, “There is no other way to do that right now, except by using extra energy. Your electric dehumidifier at home ‘produces’ very expensive water.”
on her part, Wang said, the work offers a new way to harvest water from air that does not require high relative humidity conditions and is much more energy efficient than other existing technologies.
The report said in order to harvest water, the system uses a specially designed material – a metal organic framework (MOF) designed by Yaghi over 20 years ago. By combining metals like magnesium or aluminium with organic molecules the MOF creates rigid, porous structures ideal for storing liquids and gases.
It explained that the system absorbs and traps air in nanometer sized pores. When sunlight is added, water molecules inside the trapped air get released and condensed into drinkable H2O. Using just 2.2 pounds (997g) of MOF the device can harvest 2.8 litres of water over a 12 hour period.
“One vision for the future is to have water off-grid, where you have a device at home running on ambient solar for delivering water that satisfies the needs of a household,” Yaghi said.
“To me, that will be made possible because of this experiment. I call it personalized water,”the scientist added.