Drinking water from thin air: fantasy becomes reality
To fill a glass of water, you need only air and sun.
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley (USA) developed a device capable of extracting and converting water molecules from the air into drinking water, using only ambient sunlight as a source of energy.
The instrument for extracting water from the atmosphere uses an ultra-porous material known as Metal-organic framework structures (metal-organic frameworks, MOF) , for repeated water extraction in the hottest and driest place in North America – Death Valley National Park. Tests have shown that the device is able to provide clean water to any part of the globe, which is especially important in the light of increasing climate change.
Unlike other materials such as hydrogels, zeolites or salts, MOF is able to function at low humidity, providing high energy efficiency and capacity. This makes MOF a unique tool for addressing water scarcity, with applications ranging from drinking water to agriculture.
The device is extremely efficient in collecting water, converting 85% to 90% of the water it captures as atmospheric vapor into potable water. The device collects up to 285 grams of water per kilogram MOF per day, which is equivalent to a cup of water.
The device works without greenhouse gas emissions, as it uses only solar energy, and its size makes it easy to carry even in a bag. The development team foresees further improvement of the device in terms of its efficiency, size and scope. In the future, such devices could become ubiquitous in the home and could be used to provide homes with clean water for drinking and cooking.