Scientists Invent Device To Harvest Drinkable Water From Desert Air

Scientists Invent Device To Harvest Drinkable Water From Desert Air

Scientists Unveil Fresh Water From The Desert

( – Deserts are unquestionably dry regions. Water is as scarce as it can be, which is bad news for anyone living in such extremes. People don’t have to live in the desert to be subjected to these conditions; sometimes they just experience droughts, causing a dry and arid environment. Scientists have come up with a device to essentially create water from thin air.

Okay, It’s Not Magic

Pulling something from nothing seems like a magic trick, but it’s not. In fact, it’s both scientific and now possible, at least with water. According to a report from Fast Company, the University of Texas is developing new technology that could help people deal with prolonged droughts, much like the one Ethiopians are facing now.

Through the use of low cost materials, the university is creating a simple piece of technology that can literally pull water from the air, regardless of how dry the environment is. Youhong Guo, who led a study on the technology in Nature Communications, explained the best aspect of the new technology is that there are no geographical barriers to prevent it from operating.

New but Not New

While the act of harvesting water from air isn’t necessarily new, the process called “atmospheric water harvesting” is energy intensive, making it expensive to pull water from dry climates such as deserts or places suffering from drought. In places like Ethiopia, which are often in poverty, the technology becomes hard to build or buy. The University of Texas is using alternative materials such as salt, konjac gum, and a plant-based polymer.

Atmospheric Water Harvesting

The process works much like sugar or salt clumping after being exposed to open air for so long. Guo explained that the salt is the part that wants to absorb the water, adding that by itself the salt would take ten hours for scientists to collect and extract the water. With the materials the University of Texas is utilizing, that process takes a fraction of that time.

The ingredients combined quickly absorb water, and also expedite the release when scientists apply heat. The university’s design takes about an hour to absorb the water and only 10 minutes to extract it, allowing researchers to get more cycles per day and therefore more water. The researcher-developed prototype can absorb and release around six liters of water per day at 15% relative humidity; at 30%, that number more than doubles to 13 liters per day. The more humidity in the air, the more water there is to collect.

The Advanced Research Projects division of the US Department of Defense funded the program and has expressed interest in using the technology to provide soldiers in the desert with water. This advancement could be revolutionary and has the potential to solve the world’s water problem.

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