Harvesting fresh water from thin air

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A team of researchers is designing novel systems to capture water vapour in the air and turn it into liquid.

Chemical engineering professor Dr. Michael Tam and his PhD students Yi Wang and Weinan Zhao have developed sponges or membranes with a large surface area that continually capture moisture from their surrounding environment.

Traditionally, fresh water for consumption is collected from rivers, lakes, groundwater, and oceans (with treatment). The current technologies Dr. Tam is developing are inspired by nature to harvest water from alternative sources as the world is facing a serious challenge with freshwater scarcity.

“A spider’s web is an engineering marvel,” said Tam, a University Research Chair in the field of functional colloids and sustainable nanomaterials. “Water is efficiently captured by the web. The spider doesn’t need to go to the river to drink, as it traps moisture from the air.”

Go to Researchers find inspiration from spider webs and beetles to harvest fresh water from thin air for the full story.