Water droplets form on the surface of a leaf. Image courtesy of Pxhere.org

Water droplets form on the surface of a leaf. Image courtesy of Pxhere.org

By XiaoZhi Lim
Chemical & Engineering News

Materials that reversibly trap water from air could provide a vital source of drinking water in areas where it is scarce, or offer energy-efficient air conditioning. But to be commercially viable, these materials need a large water capacity and low energy requirements during water adsorption and desorption. Now, Mircea Dincă and his research group at MIT report record-setting performance for water-trapping in a metal-organic framework (MOF) that may bring both applications closer to reality (ACS Cent. Sci. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.7b00186).

Porous materials can spontaneously pull water out of the air even at low humidity if their pores are the right size and their interior surfaces are hydrophilic. To maximize water capacity, the pores must be spacious, but not so big that the trapped water condenses into liquid that permanently clogs them. At the sweet spot, the water adsorbs to the MOF’s pores and desorbs with modest energy input, explains study co-author Adam Rieth. “Both adsorption and desorption are very important,” he says.

 

Continue reading at Chemical & Engineering News. Originally published on June 12, 2017.

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