Solar-powered system draws potable water from ‘dry air’


Upon further research by researchers at MIT and some other institutions, the output of a system to obtain drinkable water from air even in dry regions significantly boosted. And, the system uses sun or another source for heat.

Meanwhile, the system is built on a design initially developed by a team of researchers at MIT. Three years hence, the same team brings the process closer to reality to become a practical source of water for remote regions with limited supply of water and electricity.

The findings of the research are published in the journal Joule.

Research leads to new small prototype of predecessor system

Earlier, the research team provided a proof of concept for the system. Function-wise, the system harnesses the temperature difference within the device. With this temperature difference, an adsorbent material within the device draws in moisture from the air at night and releases it the next day.

On being heated by sunlight, the temperature difference between the shaded underside and heated top makes the water release back out of the adsorbent material. Thereafter, the water gets condensed on a collection plate.

The device, however, required use of specialized substances called metal organic frameworks, which are costly and available in limited supply. Further, on the downside, the water output of the system not sufficient for a practical system.

To address this, in the new prototype of the system, researchers incorporated a second level of desorption and condensation. The use of a readily available adsorbent material, the output of the device significantly increased. And, scalability of the system for a potentially widespread product greatly improved.

“Meanwhile, it’s great to have a small prototype,” said the lead researcher.

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