Show Details

Water from Air

May 2, 2017

Water for the world’s most arid regions could come right out of the air.

Transcript

Water Harvester MIT photo from laboratory of Evelyn Wang

A solar MOF water harvester. (Laboratory of Evelyn Wang, MIT)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Solar-powered water. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Could a solution to water shortages in the world’s most arid regions come right out of thin air? UC, Berkeley materials scientist Omar Yaghi says water can be harvested from air even from areas of low humidity. But until now, this has required too much heat to be practical.

OMAR YAGHI (University of California, Berkeley):

So the challenge is how do you create a material that could capture water under those conditions that could have energy efficiency?

HIRSHON:

That’s where metal-organic frameworks” – or MOFs – come in, structures that link metal ions with organic materials. Yaghi and his colleagues report in the journal Science that a MOF based on zirconium ions traps water molecules from the air. But it releases them for collection with just the heat of the sun. Yaghi envisions the technology providing all of a household’s water needs in arid regions. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard

schematic of a metal-organic framework. UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab

Schematic of a metal-organic framework. (UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab)