Trapping desert air to create drinking water

Trapping desert air to create create drinking water

A team of researchers at the Royal Scientific Society (RSS), Jordan’s largest research institution, has developed a machine that can use even the most arid desert air as a reservoir for drinking water.

Harnessing water vapour in the form of humidity, the patented device can produce up to 35 litres of water per day. This can even occur under Jordan’s dry, desert conditions, according to a statement from the RSS.

The process can take place multiple times daily, delivering a continuous supply of clean drinking water.

Jordan is one of the world’s poorest countries in terms of water resources. These are being depleted faster than they can be replenished.

Climate change is exacerbating the problem. Responding to this challenge, a team at the RSS’ Advanced Research Centre set out over three years ago to develop a solution that addresses this problem by treating the atmosphere as an untapped reservoir, said the statement.

Development of research into water from desert air

Led by Kyle E. Cordova, executive director of scientific research, and Husam Al Massad, staff scientist, the research team designed the novel atmospheric water harvesting machine to selectively capture and collect humidity from the surrounding air and condense it into liquid water.

The machine has been vetted, validated, and approved under a “rigorous peer-review process”, with the results published in one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals, Nature Communications.

Molecular sponges trap desert air

Harnessing cutting-edge technology, the machine uses porous, molecular sponges designed to efficiently and selectively capture, concentrate, and condense water vapour from dry desert air. Once the molecular sponge is full, water is released by increasing the air’s temperature.

The released water vapour condenses to yield liquid water. The water is filtered and mineralised for human consumption. An external, solar-powered energy source can drive this process.

The research team’s scientific report details how the machine operates using a proprietary algorithm. That algorithm monitors real-time climate fluctuations to optimise water production and power consumption continuously, said the statement.

This resulted in a three-fold increase in daily water production, even in the arid desert. Crucially, the cost per litre is as low as 6.5 US cents. The water produced meets the national drinking standards of Jordan.

The RSS has registered a worldwide patent to commercialise the device through a spin-off company called AquaPoro Ventures Ltd.. They aim to manufacture the machine in Jordan to bring water independence and security to families and communities by mid-2023. In a statement, the RSS said that it sees this new technology as an important addition to an urgently needed armoury of tools to provide long-lasting global water solutions.

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