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Device Can Turn Air Into Drinking Water With Solar Power [VIDEO]

Update Date: Apr 15, 2017 11:19 PM EDT

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Universit y of California Berkeley have unveiled a device that can turn air into drinking water with the aid of the sun even in places with very low humidity.

Dr. Omar Yaghi from UC Berkeley had first developed a material called metal-organic framework (MOF) two decades ago. The material is made of organic and inorganic metallic units that make a porous structure. The MOF looks much like sand but its porous nature makes it possible to store liquids or gases in a small container, Newsweek reported.

With the help of Dr. Evelyn Wang from MIT, they were able to develop a device with MOF that could collect water. The device is made of a kilogram of the MOF which is pressed into sheet copper metal. The metal is placed in a chamber between a solar absorber and a condenser plate.

The device can turn air into drinking water by absorbing all the moisture in the air and then storing them in the MOF at night. During the day, the chamber is closed so the solar absorber can catch the sunlight from an opening on top of the chamber. As that happens, the slightest rise in temperature can cause the MOF to release the stored water. The setup can absorb as much as almost 3 liters of water per day for every kilogram of the MOF that was in the device, Science reported.

While this is just a proof of concept, the implications of such a device are enormous. The original device the size of a tissue box can turn air into drinking water at 30% humidity can be developed further to a 30-liter system and produce enough water for a family of four for a day. This is important in desert areas with very little rainfall. The researchers hope to develop this further for large-scale applications such as water for agricultural purposes.

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