By: Nick Gambino

With the demand for clean water in areas that rarely see rain or aren’t privy to near-by fresh water, many research groups and companies have been trying to create a way to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of producing drinkable water out of thin air..

Researchers from both MIT and UC Berkeley have finally created a device that can do just that. And what’s more, is it accomplishes the feat without the need for energy input or high humidity levels.

Now the process involved can be a little technical and I won’t pretend like I fully understand it. But I’m pretty decent at getting the gist – it’s kind of my thing. So basically, the device uses metal organic frameworks or MOFs. The MOFs feature a super-porous quality that attracts water.

These MOFs pull the water from the air even if humidity is uber-low, say, 10 percent. The water is drawn out of the air at night and stored. Once the sun rises, the solar paneled device ushers the captured water into a condenser for harvesting.

The system doesn’t reside in theory only. The crack team of water pullers tested it in arid Tempe, Arizona where the air is particularly dry. Needless to say, it was a success. While there have no doubt been other contraptions and devices designed to do what this guy does, none have had wide-scale applicability.

For one, there are no moving parts, no complexities, no potential of breakdown. It’s completely solar powered which comes in handy in more third-world environments where electricity is as scarce as water. Additionally, it produces clean water. Tests were run on the resulting water and it was found there were no impurities – not even from the MOF making its way into the collected liquid.

These factors alone lend themselves to upscaling. “We hope to have a system that’s able to produce liters of water,” says Evelyn Wang who worked on the project.

If they can figure out how to rig the system at low cost and upscale it to pump out several liters of water a day, this revolutionary device could be placed in any household in any region where dehydration is an ongoing concern.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.