One of the biggest challenges in future would be water scarcity. And, on an ever-growing warming planet getting fresh and clean water for everybody to drink would definitely be a necessity. In this context, scientists have reportedly developed a system called ‘solar-powered harvester’ that can extract water out of the air using solar power. The system is innovative and an advance ideal for those living in arid areas.
The prototype has been developed by researchers at the University of Berkeley, US, and the model is said to harvest drinkable water every day-and-night cycle at very low humidity, and at reasonable costs. Omar Yaghi, who invented the technology of the underlying harvester, stated that the model operated at ambient temperature with ambient sunlight. He added that with no additional energy input one could collect water in the desert. The journey from the laboratory to the desert allowed them to turn water harvesting into a science.
The reported trial in Scottsdale, had a backdrop of a relative humidity of 40% high at night, and touching a low of 8% during the day, and demonstrated that the harvester could be scaled up by adding more of the water absorber, which is a highly porous material called a metal-organic framework (MOF). The MOF are solids with many internal channels and holes that a MOF (the size of a sugar-cube) might have an internal surface area the size of six football fields.
With the recent MOF (namely MOF-801), made from metal zirconium, the researchers expect to be able to extract around 200 millilitres of water per kilogramme of MOF. They have also reportedly created a new MOF (MOF-303) based on aluminium that is around 150 times cheaper and can capture twice as much water in lab tests. This would enable a new generation of harvesters that could produce more than 400 millilitres of water per day from a kilogramme of MOF. Yaghi said that the aluminium MOF is making water production practical and cheap.