A team of scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a sponge airgel that extracts moisture from the air and turns it into clean drinking water.
The airgel is based on long serpentine polymers on a metal-organic framework, which are characterized by a large surface area. Thanks to the specially selected structure, the airgel attracts and repels water at the same time. In practice, it looks like this: an airgel removes water molecules from the air, condenses them into a liquid, and then releases the collected water without requiring additional squeezing efforts. In direct sunlight, the water-repellent properties of the gel are increased, which converts up to 95% of the collected steam into drinking water.
In laboratory tests, researchers tested the material for endurance for 1400 hours. The results were more than encouraging: the characteristics of the drinking water obtained were in full compliance with the WHO requirements. At high humidity, only 1 kg of airgel can produce up to 17 liters of drinking water per day, and this despite the fact that the material itself is very light and does not take up space.
Researchers note the simplicity of the design to produce water, which also requires no energy and functions without mechanical moving parts. Currently, scientists are looking for investors and commercial partners to implement the technology into production.