New device, harvests water from desert air

MIT-developed system could provide drinking water even in extremely arid locations.

Researchers at MIT have developed a new device that is able to extract moisture from very dry air.
Researchers at MIT have developed a new device that is able to extract moisture from very dry air.

Even in the aridest places on Earth, there is some moisture in the air, and a practical way to extract that moisture could be a key to survival in such bone-dry locations. Now, researchers at MIT have proved that such an extraction system can work.

MIT scientists have developed a device that based on has now been field-tried in the exceptionally dry demeanor of Tempe, Arizona, affirming the capability of the new strategy, however much work stays to scale up the procedure, the specialists say.

Current methods for extracting water from air require much higher levels – 100 percent humidity for fog-harvesting methods, and above 50 percent for dew-harvesting refrigeration-based systems, which also require large amounts of energy for cooling. So the new system could potentially fill an unmet need for water even in the world’s driest regions.

The new work is actually based on relatively new high-surface-area materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), can extract potable water from even the driest of desert air, the researchers say, with relative humidities as low as 10 percent.

The test gadget was fueled exclusively by daylight, and despite the fact that it was a little evidence of-idea gadget, if scaled up its yield would be proportionate to in excess of a quarter-liter of water every day per kilogram of MOF, the scientists say. With an ideal material decision, a yield can be as high as three times that of the present form, says Kim. Not at all like any of the current techniques for extricating water from air at low humidities, “with this approach, you really can do it, even under these extraordinary conditions.”

MIT postdoc Sameer Rao said, “Not only does this system work at lower humidities than dew harvesting does, says Rao, but those systems require pumps and compressors that can wear out, whereas “this has no moving parts. It can be operated in a completely passive manner, in places with low humidity but large amounts of sunlight.”

Evelyn Wang, the Gail E. Kendall Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering said, “The team tested the water produced by the system and found no traces of impurities. Mass-spectrometer testing showed “there’s nothing from the MOF that leaches into the water. It shows the material is indeed very stable, and we can get high-quality water.”

Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California at Los Angeles said, “This technology is fantastic, because of the practical demonstration of an air-cooled water harvesting system based on MOFs operating in a real desert climate.”

“This provides a new approach to solving the problem of water scarcity in arid climates. This technology, if one can further increase its production capacity, can have a real impact in areas where water is scarce, such as southern California.”

The new work is reported today in the journal Nature Communications.