Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new, thin, gel film that can capture litres of water from desert air. This exciting new development could help over a third of the worlds population that live in drylands.
To create the water-capturing film, the researchers used renewable cellulose and konjac gum - a common kitchen ingredient. This combination is what helps to attract the water. The open-pore structure of the gum helps with the speed of the moisture-capturing process. Whilst creating the film, the researchers also managed to keep the overall energy input low for the water production.
Impressively, just a kilogram of the material can produce more than six litres of water a day in areas with less than 15% relative humidity. If we double this figure to 30% relative humidity, then up to thirteen litres can be produced in the same time frame.
“This could allow millions of people without consistent access to drinking water to have simple, water generating devices at home that they can easily operate.” said Guihua Yu, professor of materials science and mechanical engineering.
In addition to being able to produce large amounts of water, the newly produced gel film also has a relatively low manufacturing cost, thanks to the materials used. The exact figures stand at $2 per kilogram of materials used. As well as having a low manufacturing cost, the reaction itself for the water making process is a simple one. Both of these factors mean that the new technology could be scaled up easily for mass usage.