Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin have developed an innovative low-cost gel film that could one day help people who live in drylands without easy access to clean drinking water. This material is capable of pulling drinking water from the air in even the arid climates, and the items used to facilitate this reaction cost just $2 per kilogram, with a single kilogram having the ability to produce more than 6 liters of water per day.
That’s right, despite its low cost, it can make 6 liters of water per day in areas with less than 15% relative humidity or up to 13 liters in areas with up to 30% relative humidity. What is it made from? A renewable cellulose and konjac gum, a common kitchen ingredient, as a main hydrophilic (attracted to water) skeleton. The open-pore structure of gum speeds up the moisture-capturing process, while thermo-responsive cellulose with hydrophobic (resistant to water) interaction when heated, helps release the collected water near instantly so that overall energy input to produce water is minimized. Artificial intelligence was not used during the design process, but it can already remove water from underwater images.
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This is not something you need an advanced degree to use. It’s straightforward enough that anyone can make it at home if they have the materials,” said Youhong ‘Nancy’ Guo, the lead author on the paper.