One of humanity’s challenges is guaranteeing clean drinking water to all the inhabitants of the planet Earth: unfortunately, water is still scarce for a large part of the world population and is unattainable for many.
Currently, most of the technological research focuses on the desalination of seawater to obtain low-cost freshwater, but this path guarantees limited results. Recently, however, a team of researchers has developed another possible technological solution: a device capable of extracting fresh water from the air, even in places where humidity is only 20%.
The structure of the MOF is made by a series of mineral substances traps the water molecules captured by the atmosphere.
The only fundamental element for this technology is sunlight. The system, developed by MIT and the University of California at Berkeley, uses a particular material known as metal-organic structure (MOF). It is a substance composed of metallic elements, such as magnesium and aluminum, it creates rigid porous if combined with organic molecules, suitable for the storage of gas or liquids. To date, several research centers have produced MOF capable of capturing carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane, but never water.
The team built a MOF composed of zirconium and adipic acid, which can hold water vapor, some prototypes, the research was published on Science after passing different tests.The system works by making the water molecules stick to the MOF. Here the sunlight, heating it, pushes the water towards a condenser wherein water drips into a manifold. One of the researchers explains “it is an important step forward to get water from the air even at low humidity, as if it were a normal dehumidifier-the kind of those we have in the house, even if these, in fact,” produce “little water at a high price.”
The researchers argue that the point to which they have arrived still allows considerable improvements, which will bring down the costs of the system so that one day everyone in the world could have their atmospheric water extractor. A MOF to every family.
Around our planet, in the atmospheric mix, it is estimated that there are at least 13 billion gallons of water could be obtained where they serve. The test was taken in places where humidity is very low, around 20-30%, and was able to get about 3 liters of water in 12 hours with a pound of MOF: The whole was tested in real conditions, not in the lab. With few, further, adjustments and support the device could easily extract from the air safe drinking water in sufficient quantities to defuse an emergency that causes hundreds of thousands of deaths every year.