This salty gel could harvest water from desert air
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS) at MIT have developed a 'super absorbent' hydrogel that can extract a record amount of moisture from the air, even in desert-like conditions. The material, made from hydrogel infused with lithium chloride, can swell to make room for more moisture as it absorbs water vapor. Even in very dry conditions with 30 percent relative humidity, the material can pull vapour from the air and hold the moisture without leaking. This transparent, rubbery material has the potential to be used as a passive water harvester in drought-prone regions, where it continuously absorbs vapour that can be condensed into drinking water. Another use is on air conditioning units to improve efficiency and act as a dehumidifier. The material's low cost and high performance make it a promising solution for water scarcity and energy efficiency challenges. The research was led by Carlos Díaz-Marin, an MIT graduate student and member of the Device Research Lab. A study co-authored by J-WAFS principal investigator, Evelyn Wang, was published in a paper in Advanced Materials.