Scientists invent solar-powered device to extract water from dry air

Scientists invent solar-powered device to extract water from dry air”

By optimizing what they call a metal-organic framework (MOF) to hang on to water molecules, researchers at MIT and the University of California-Berkeley have created a system that passively catches water vapor and releases it later when exposed to heat from sunlight. One day in the not far off future, water harvesters will likely become affordable enough not only to provide drinking water to people in arid regions, but maybe even supply water to farmers in desert regions. Could this technology put an end to droughts?

Fog harvesting requires the presence of fog, which is air at nearly 100 percent humidity, while dewing uses water condensers to take water vapor from the atmospheric air, turning it into liquid. "Your electric dehumidifier at home "produces" very expensive water". It is now a prototype, but has passed tests in real-world conditions. This particular device is said to be able to produce close to 3 liters of water in a single day, which is more than enough to sustain a human being even in a desert. "To me‚ that will be made possible because of this experiment". The setup works so well that it pulls 2.8 liters of water out of the air per day when run continuously, the Berkeley and MIT team reports today in Science.

The MOFs were invented by Prof.

Since the material's invention more than 20 years ago, the technology has seen over 20,000 different adaptations.

Other MOFs are able to capture carbon dioxide from flue gases, catalyze the reaction of adsorbed chemicals or separate petrochemicals in processing plants. The combination of zirconium metal and adipic acid is known to bind water vapor. The research team created a water collecting device using this MOF.

The MIT team then took dust-sized crystals of this MOF and compressed them between a solar absorber and a condenser plate, and placed the whole thing inside a chamber that was exposed to the outside air.

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The entire process relies on phase changes - back and forth between water vapor and liquid water - Park noted, and he added that the technique mimics a natural process that already occurs in desert landscapes.

As the ambient air diffuses through the crystals, water molecules attach to the interior surfaces. As sunlight heats up the MOF, it drives the water down towards a condenser where it forms into liquid water and drips into a collector.

This, in addition to its ability to operate in low humidity conditions (generally below 40 percent humidity is considered dry air), means the harvester could represent a huge breakthrough for bringing water to places that desperately need it.

The device is powered by solar energy, but it's most important component is metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs. They are the building blocks that Prof. There have even been some MOFs that could hold hydrogen or methane, and one of these frameworks is now being tested by German chemical firm BASF in its natural gas-powered trucks, as tanks with MOFs can hold thrice the amount of methane that can normally be pumped into an empty tank.

Desert like conditions typically have low humidity levels making it hard to extract anything that resembles water from the air. The present version can collect water up to about 25 percent of its own weight, but with further tuning they think that proportion could be at least doubled.

Though that may not sound like much, its designers say the current device is just a prototype.

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