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Author Topic: Bring the lab to the water . . .  (Read 379 times)

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Re: Bring the lab to the water . . .
« on: April 13, 2017, 07:52:13 pm »

Apr 13, 2017 @ 04:36 PM
This Device Can Pull Three Liters Of Water Out Of Thin Air

Sam Lemonick , 

There are 13,000 trillion liters of water in Earth’s atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean much for places like the Sahara desert. A new device aims to help harvest some of that fresh water from the air using only the Sun's energy.

If it can be scaled up and commercialized, the technology could be a boon to people living in arid regions or places where there is extreme drought. Other water-harvesting devices require high humidity, like fog, or need electricity to power condensers. This one will work off the grid and and in very dry conditions, according to its creators.

The new device has three parts: a highly porous layer to capture water from ambient air, a solar collector to heat that layer and release the water, and a condenser to turn that vapor into liquid water. Lead researchers Omar Yaghi at the University of California, Berkeley, and Evelyn Wang, at MIT, report in Science that the harvester can draw almost 3 liters of water per kilogram of adsorbent. And that’s at just 20 percent relative humidity, low enough to make your eyes feel like they’re drying out.

The key is the adsorbent, made from a spongy material called a metal-organic framework. MOFs are pretty much what they sound like, a metal atom or atoms with organic (i.e., carbon-based molecules) attached, creating an open structure with a repeating pattern. Yaghi is the king of MOFs, having designed thousands of them since the 1990s. They’re particularly useful because they can be designed to have specific physical and chemical properties depending on what you want them to adsorb. MOFs have been made to trap and store natural gas, capture methane from car exhaust or scrub carbon dioxide from smokestacks.

This MOF is made to adsorb water and easily let it go. It has clusters of zirconium atoms in a cage of carbon and oxygen, connected by short fumaric acid molecules. Fumaric acid, by the way, is sometimes used to give salt and vinegar chips their vinegar flavor. That architecture leaves big pockets for water molecules to gather in. And Yaghi says the chemical properties of this MOF encourage water molecules to pack in more tightly, increasing the amount of water it can adsorb from air.

Yaghi says his group first discovered this MOF while working on a different project with Yang, to utilize MOFs for car air conditioners. That program had ended when he realized this MOF would release its water without much energy input—little enough that the Sun could do it.

“We made this specific discovery, and I rushed to MIT and said to Evelyn, ‘We have to get this out,’” Yaghi recalls.
Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate:
For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them. Pr. 22:22-23


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