A device that can extract water from air with the help of solar power has been created which may solve the chronic drought problem in numerous areas.
The findings were published in the journal Science on Thursday by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California Berkeley.
The device harvests water from the air even in cases where the level of humidity is as low as twenty percent, making it helpful in some of the driest areas on Earth.
Approximately one in ten people do not have access to drinking water. Four billion people across the globe suffer due to severe water shortages.
An extremely expensive way to harvest water from air is a dehumidifier that uses a lot of energy in comparison to this device. Evelyn Wang, a mechanical engineer from MIT says, “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.”
Omar Yaghi and Evelyn Wang from MIT are the people responsible for creating this technology. The device works by using a specially designed material which is a metal organic framework (MOF) designed by Yaghi nearly 20 years ago. Metals like magnesium or aluminium are combined with organic molecules. The MOF creates a structure that is rigid and porous and perfect for storing liquids and gases.
After the air is absorbed, it is trapped in nanometer sized pores. With the help of sunlight the water molecules in the air are released and condensed into drinkable water. 997g of MOF can harvest 2.8 litres of water over twelve hours.
“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. To me, that will be made possible because of this experiment. I call it personalized water,” said Yaghi.
The device is not being produced commercially yet but scientists have huge plans for this technology.