Water harvesting from air with metal-organic frameworks powered by natural sunlight

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Science  28 Apr 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6336, pp. 430-434
DOI: 10.1126/science.aam8743

Solar heat helps harvest humidity

Atmospheric humidity and droplets constitute a huge freshwater resource, especially at the low relative humidity (RH) levels typical of arid environments. Water can be adsorbed by microporous materials such as zeolites, but often, making these materials release the water requires too much energy to be practical. Kim et al. used a metal-organic framework (MOF) material that has a steep increase in water uptake over a narrow RH range to harvest water, using only ambient sunlight to heat the material. They obtained 2.8 liters of water per kilogram of MOF daily at 20% RH.

Science, this issue p. 430


Atmospheric water is a resource equivalent to ~10% of all fresh water in lakes on Earth. However, an efficient process for capturing and delivering water from air, especially at low humidity levels (down to 20%), has not been developed. We report the design and demonstration of a device based on a porous metal-organic framework {MOF-801, [Zr6O4(OH)4(fumarate)6]} that captures water from the atmosphere at ambient conditions by using low-grade heat from natural sunlight at a flux of less than 1 sun (1 kilowatt per square meter). This device is capable of harvesting 2.8 liters of water per kilogram of MOF daily at relative humidity levels as low as 20% and requires no additional input of energy.

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