Water, the most vital element needed by the human body, is unfortunately not abundant enough in the current era. A lot of countries face a water crisis, which deprives them of progress and development. The issue needs to be addressed with more concern and attention. Hence researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have engineered a highly innovative device that is capable of extracting a drinkable amount of water from the driest air.
According to the team, the harvester can extract more than 1.3L (5.4 US cups) of drinking water per kilogram of the water-absorbing material used in the harvester. The device can work in a 40% humidity. The water is still less, but it is enough to keep the human body alive in dire situations.
The harvester works just fine.
The harvester was tested for 3 days in the Mojave Desert. In that duration, the device produced 3 cups (0.7L) of water per kg of the absorbing material. Even on the driest day, the harvester managed to extract 200ml (6 oz) of water out of the air with 7% humidity.
The key component of the water harvester is known as a metal-organic framework (MOF). The material has an extremely large area that allows a large number of water molecules from the air and condense inside them at room temperature. When the framework is heated, it releases water again.
The device is a large box made out of plexiglass. The box is filled with cartridges of MOFs. When air flows over the MFOs, they extract water out of it. The water is removed from the MFos by mildly heating them. It travels to a condenser where the water gathers.
Researchers say that this model is 10 times more efficient than its previous prototypes. The desired result was achieved after using a small fan that blows air over the MFOs and the small heaters that release the water. The device runs on the energy collected by solar panels situated on the top of the device. Batteries are used to keep the device running at nighttime. The water harvester is self-contained, which makes it suitable to be used in developing countries where water scarcity is a major issue.
The best feature of the device is it is scalable. A startup company is already testing a microwave-size model of the device, which can produce between 7-10 liters of drinking water, which is sufficient for three adults. The larger version, about the size of a fridge, can produce 200-500 liters a day, enough for the entire household for a day. Their goal is to build the largest type, which would be able to produce enough water to aid to a village’s water crisis.