MIT Researchers Develop Device Harvests Water From Desert Air

Sunday, March 25, 2018 - 13:48

Researchers from MIT have proved that even in the most arid 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.

According to the researchers, the new device, based on a concept the team first proposed last year, has now been field-tested in the very dry air of Tempe, Arizona, confirming the potential of the new method, though much work remains to scale up the process.

The new work is reported in the journal Nature Communications and includes some significant improvements over the initial concept that was described last year in a paper in Science, says Evelyn Wang, the Gail E. Kendall Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, who was the senior author of both papers. MIT postdoc Sameer Rao and former graduate student Hyunho Kim SM ’14, PhD ’18 were the lead authors of the latest paper, along with four others at MIT and the University of California at Berkeley.

The system, 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. 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 next step, Wang says, is to work on scaling up the system and boosting its efficiency. “We hope to have a system that’s able to produce liters of water.” These small, initial test systems were only designed to produce a few milliliters, to prove the concept worked in real-world conditions, but she says “we want to see water pouring out!” The idea would be to produce units sufficient to supply water for individual households.

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,” Wang says. “It shows the material is indeed very stable, and we can get high-quality water.”

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کد خبر: 615451 0 0

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