Scientists have come up with a different way to extract water from thin air by using solar powder. They said that this is a potential way to provide water to those areas that are severely affected by drought.

This is not the first technology that allows turning water vapor into drinkable water, but according to the researchers, their method uses less power, and it works in drier areas. This technology uses a substance called metal-organic framework (MOF), a material made out of metal mixes and organic compounds. Powders made from MOF are very porous, and they are very helpful capturing water.

Image credit: Forest County Health Department
Image credit: Forest County Health Department

“This 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,” said  Omar Yaghi from Berkeley, who along with colleague Evelyn Wang from MIT created the revolutionary tech.

2.2 pounds of MOF can harvest 2.8 liters of water in 12 hours

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California Berkeley came up with this breakthrough invention that can harvest water from the atmosphere in conditions where humidity is as low as 20 percent. Their device is capable of doing so while using less power than any other method to extract water from the air.

The researchers built a small prototype water collector that contains a thin layer of MOF powder. The powder absorbs water vapor until it is saturated. Since the powders made from MOFs are very porous, they are used to store hydrogen or methane fuel. It can also be used to capture carbon dioxide.

MIT’s Evelyn Wang and Berkeley’s Omar Yaghi decided to try using MOF to absorb water vapor because even in the driest places on Earth, where there is no liquid water, there are tons of water molecules everywhere. The prototype collects the water vapor, and then the water is placed in the bottom, in its liquid form.

“Once you achieve that maximum amount,” Wang says, “you apply some type of heat to the system to release that water.”

The device can harvest 2.8 liters of water over a 12 hour period by using just 2.2 pounds (997g). According to Yaghi, this can be upgraded. The device has a lot of potential, and the amount of water that is currently harvested can be augmented. It is just a matter of time and engineering.

The device is not ready for commercial production

Right now 1 out of every ten people lack access to clean drinkable water, while 4 billion people worldwide are facing severe water shortages. Therefore, technology like this can bring hope and give a solution to this global problem. Yaghi’s vision for the future is to have water off-grid, so every person has a device at home running on solar energy so it can deliver water to satisfy the needs of a household. The device is not ready to be commercialized, but they have big plans for this technology.

Their findings were published in the Journal Science on Thursday.

Source: Russia Today