Researchers Find A New Way To Make Water From Thin Air

In conditions as low as 20 percent humidity, the solar-powered water harvester was able to produce more than two liters of water from the air over a 12-hour period. The MIT solar cube can extract water from the moist air and put it to use. After all, dehumidifiers make sure that a room or home does not easily grow mold by sucking out the moisture from the air, and at the end of the day, you will have to pour all of the water away somewhere else. MIT Technology has built a device that can produce water from the dry air. The copper metal sheet is then placed between a solar absorber on top and a condenser plate on the bottom.

In 2014, Professor Yaghi and his UC Berkeley team synthesised a MOF - a combination of zirconium metal and adipic acid - that binds water vapour.

A home appliance that collects water from the air, even in dry or desert climates, using only the power of the sun, might be just around the corner. This condenses the water which then drips into a collector. A report last year in Science Advances found that four billion people, almost half in India and China, face "severe water scarcity at least one month of the year". "There are desert areas around the world with around 20 percent humidity", where potable water is a pressing need, "but there really hasn't been a technology available that could fill" that need, Wang says. For the existing prototype, the MOF can only absorb 20 percent of its weight in water, but this figure may be doubled on future MOFs, according to CNET. Their latest prototype uses a popular but odd new material and requires little energy, even in some of the driest places on Earth.

"Our next step is trying to build a device that can capture a reasonable amount of water in a way that can be viable for remote areas, where there's little access to clean water", Wang continued.

The revolutionary technology relies on a material known as a metal-organic framework (MOF) which was first designed by Omar Yaghi approximately twenty years ago. Ensuring we all have enough water for our needs is simpler than we think, but we're going to need to do more.

MOFs, which have been on the scene for more than two decades, are cagelike arrays of multimetallic units tied together with organic-chain linkers. Powders made from MOFs are very porous, so researchers have proposed using them to store hydrogen or methane fuels or to capture carbon dioxide.

Recently, he and Wang, a mechanical engineer, teamed up to develop an MOF device that could collect water.

A female villager walks after collecting water from the base of a dried-up reservoir, due to the long dry season, at Kedung Sumber village, near Bojonegoro in Indonesia's East Java province, October 16, 2013.

Professor Omar Yaghi, one of the senior scientists on the project, is calling the harvester "personalized water". "It is just a matter of further engineering now", says Yaghi about making the device's use more wide scale in future.

The entire device operates off ambient sunlight, Yaghi noted - no solar cells or external power sources are needed to make it work.

In a new meta-analysis published in PLOS One, researchers from Purdue, Stanford and the Canadian Council on Animal Care look at the different techniques used to induce laughter in rats in order to improve their wellbeing and capture their laughter, which is delightful.

  • Essie Rivera