How to Pull Water Out of Thin Air, Even in the Driest Parts of the Globe
They hope that a version of the technology could eventually supply clean drinking water in some the driest and poorest parts of the globe.
The device is based on a novel material that can pull large amounts of water into its many pores.
A report last year in Science Advances found that four billion people, nearly half in India and China, face “severe water scarcity at least one month of the year.” That means water shortages affect two-thirds of the world’s population.
The size and chemical character of the material’s pores can be customized to capture particular types of molecules or allow them to flow through.
The material also has a massive surface area, on the order of a football field per gram, enabling it to bond with a large quantity of particles.
In this case, the scientists employed a previously developed version of the material that Yaghi optimized to efficiently capture water molecules.
But during the day, sunlight hitting the material adds enough energy to convert the water molecules into vapor.
Though they plan to continue refining the technology, they’re “not that far away” from a viable product, says Evelyn Wang, head of MIT’s device research laboratory.
Could this technology make a real difference in some of the driest parts of the world?
But the big hope, he says, is that these devices could become household fixtures in poorer parts of the world.