Water from air

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley have discovered a unique way to extract clean, pure water out of air. This discovery could save millions of people living in water-starved regions across the world.

yaghiScientists managed to successfully extract clean, drinkable water at very low humidity and at a low cost using their newly built next-generation water harvester. Omar Yaghi, the James and Neeltje Tretter chair in chemistry at UC Berkeley and inventor of the technology, says “There is nothing like this. It operates at ambient temperature with ambient sunlight, and with no additional energy input you can collect water in the desert. This laboratory-to-desert journey allowed us to really turn water harvesting from an interesting phenomenon into a science.”

Omar Yaghi, a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Credit: Today at Berkeley Lab

Where it all started

In October 2017, scientists created a prototype water harvester, which sucked water out of the air using just sunlight as energy. Their initial discovery led them to create an even larger water extractor machine, bringing them closer to their goal of providing lifelong clean and drinkable water to people living in water-scarce areas.

Yaghi, a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and his team are set to report the results of the water-collecting harvester’s first field test in an edition of the scientific journal, Science Advances.

The trial was conducted in Scottsdale, where the relative humidity drops as low as eight per cent a day. Despite low humidity levels, the harvester demonstrated its ability to extract water from even the scarcest places, after scientists added more of the machine’s water absorber — a highly porous material comprising a metal-organic framework, or MOF.


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