Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California at Berkeley have developed, and have now successfully tested, an innovative technology capable of extracting water from the air even in a dry arid climate. The extraction of water in the desert is extremely difficult, and the introduction of such technologies could significantly alleviate the lives of many people. Researchers first told the scientific world about it last year, and now they also tried it in real conditions.
The technology of moisture extraction from the air is far from new. But all the existing ways to do this have faced serious limitations. As a rule, for the efficient operation of the devices, humidity above 50%, as well as a large amount of energy, was required. American researchers also managed to create a mechanism for releasing water from the air passively, without using energy and at a low level of humidity of up to 10%. The principles of technology work were published in the journal Nature Communications.
The essence of the new technology lies in a special metamaterial, which scientists call the metal-organic framework (MOF). It consists of bound molecules that create a superporous large surface area. MOF is able to be very hydrophilic, literally attracting moisture. At night, it extracts water from the air and stores it in its pores, and under the influence of the sun's rays, water leaves the pores and condenses, allowing it to be collected. The system is completely passive, it does not need energy sources or any mechanical parts.
The possibilities of this technology are already quite impressive. After all, using only about a kilogram of MOF, you can collect more than 250 milliliters of water per day, even in the driest desert. Scientists have tested the water extraction system in Arizona's arid climate and have been very pleased with the results of the technology work in the field. It is also important that the MOF substance does not add any impurities to the water it holds, without any effect on its quality. At the moment, scientists are thinking how to make the system even more efficient, compact and convenient.