In what could be a massive development and break through, American scientists have recently declared that people living in dry, drought-ridden areas may soon be able to get water straight from a source which is present everywhere the air.
According to the scientists, they have developed a box which will convert low humidity air into water, which will produce several litres of water every 12 hours.
Evelyn Wang, a mechanical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-author of the paper says that that box takes the water from the air and captures it. According to her, the technology could be “really great of remote areas where there’s really limited infrastructure.”
The system which is currently in the model phase, uses a material which looks like sand in powder form to trap air in its tiny pores. When heated by the sun or any other heat source, water molecules in the trapped air are released and condensed-thus pulling water out of thin air, said the scientists.
A recent test conducted at the roof of MIT has concluded that that the system can produce about a glass of water every hour in 20-30% humidity.
While there are companies like Water-Gen and EcoloBlue who produce atmospheric water-generation units that create water from air, this prototype is more special. Its specialty is that it can cultivate water in low humidity environments using no energy, according to Wang.
She further stated in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “it doesn’t have to be this complicated system that requires some kind refrigeration cycle.”
An estimated one third of the world’s population lives in areas with low relative humidity and even though areas going through droughts often experience dry air, but Wang said the new product could help them still get access to water
“Now we can get to regions that really are pretty dry, arid regions,” she said. “We can provide them with a device and they can use it pretty simply.”
Her co-author Omar Yaghi further adds that the technology opens the door for what he calls “personalised water”.
Yaghi is a chemistry professor at University of California, Berkeley who envisions a future where the water is produced off-grid for individual homes and possibly farms using the device.
In the next few years, Wang said, the developers are hoping to find a way to reproduce the devices on a large scale and eventually create a formal product. The resulting device, she believes, will be relatively affordable and accessible.