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Pulling Water From Thin Air

Metal-organic mesh can draw out close to a gallon a day, without using electricity.

By Nathaniel Scharping|Wednesday, January 03, 2018
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MIT/Evelyn Wang Laboratory

A new material can suck drinking water out of thin air, no power required. The mesh, called a metal-organic framework, contains tiny spaces perfect for grabbing and holding onto water molecules.

Just a couple of pounds of the stuff can draw nearly a gallon of water from the air each day — even in conditions drier than most deserts. Better yet, the sun’s heat is all that’s needed to retrieve the water for drinking. This makes it an attractive option for developing countries with little infrastructure. Researchers have proposed similar water collectors before, but most need electricity or high humidity to function.

By further fine-tuning the tiny spaces, the project’s engineers hope one day to harvest even more water. The work, led by researchers at MIT and the University of California, Berkeley, appeared in Science in April.

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