Water, Everywhere

FYI: Green

Summer 2017

In the driest—and poorest—parts of the globe, millions of people don’t have access to clean, safe water. A new device developed by scientists could solve the world’s water scarcity problem by “harvesting” water from the surrounding air.


The solar-powered device uses sponge-like, synthetic porous materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to capture water from air, even in areas of low relative humidity. A prototype created by a team of scientists from MIT and the University of California, Berkeley, recently pulled 2.8 liters of water—about 12 cups—from the air over a 12-hour period using a one-kilogram MOF in 20 percent relative humidity. This is a slow start, but it could provide big gains for desert dwellers. “People would have water independence, without relying on the grid,” explains Omar Yaghi, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. “For me, it would be a dream come true to have our device provide a way for people living in arid regions to have water on demand.” Learn more at

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