DARPA-funded gel-film pulls water from airMarie Donlon | June 13, 2022
A gel-film designed to pull drinking water from desert air has been developed by scientists and engineers at the University of Texas at Austin.
To improve access to drinking water in arid regions characterized by water scarcity and that rely on groundwater in the absence of freshwater sources, the researchers developed the low-cost gel film.
Composed of renewable cellulose and konjac gum, which features an open-pore structure that enhances the moisture capturing process, the gel-film can be produced quickly. According to researchers, the gel sets in just 2 minutes, is freeze dried and then removed from its mold, ready for use.
During testing, 1 kg of film reportedly produced over 6 liters of water per day in regions with under 15% relative humidity and 13 liters in regions with as much as 30% relative humidity.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the film was initially developed to offer soldiers operating in desert regions a means for producing drinking water.
The gel-film is detailed in the article, Scalable super hygroscopic polymer films for sustainable moisture harvesting in arid environments, which appears in the journal Nature Communications.