With this new technology, desert region need not struggle more for water. A new sponge-like device can draw around 3 liters of water out of air per day in the desert like region, researchers say. This device does so by pulling water vapor from the air with the help of sunlight. If the device is manufactured at the low cost, millions of people from the arid regions could be served by providing solar-powered appliance capable of delivering the water to their homes.
The atmosphere contains around 13 trillion liters of water that is equivalent to 10% of all the freshwater in lakes and rivers. According to World Health Organization, one out of 10 people still do not get safe drinking water. Even if there are large water bodies some people still cannot afford the cost of desalination of water. Various devices such as meshes or canvas are used to harvest fog and used in some developing regions but the problem is that it requires relatively high humidity.
The solar device captures the moisture at 20 percent relative humidity and simulated sunlight, the level which is very common in arid and desert regions. Omar Yaghi, a professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley said, “My aim is to have water off-grid where you have a device at your home running on ambient sunlight for delivering water that satisfies household needs.” The device that Yaghi manufactured would contain highly porous materials as a metal-organic framework (MOFs). Over the past 20 years, researchers have manufactured more than 20,000 MOFs having a unique molecule-grabbing property. The compounds contain clusters of metal linked by organic molecules. They find their applications in storing hydrogen and scrubbing carbon dioxide from exhaust gases.
MOF-801, a new zirconium-based MOF was also synthesized by Yaghi. When he met Wang at MIT he said, “Evelyn we have to develop a water harvesting device.” She agreed with the same.