Scientists design gel that "pulls buckets of drinking water per day from thin air"

Originally published at: Scientists design gel that "pulls buckets of drinking water per day from thin air" | Boing Boing

7 Likes

That’s some good news.

12 Likes

Desert is saying damn, I have so little moisture to begin with and now you’re pulling it out of my air?

23 Likes

I wonder what the carbon footprint is that’s necessary to make the gel in the first place?

14 Likes

Moisture farming is on the way. Tatooine is Earth!

29 Likes

And so they’ve released the formula and manufacturing process into the public domain so everyone can use it, right? Right?

25 Likes

So this occurred to me too, how much water is actually in the air. There could at least be ways around that though. I could imagine letting ocean water into greenhouses to trap the moisture and then using gel to extract it…the bigger question then becomes the cost of the gel itself.

I don’t know, but on that there is at least some good news, since cellulose and konjac gum are both from plants.

13 Likes

I’m pretty sure that Lucas stole that from Herbert’s Dune; windtraps. :blush:

17 Likes

Plants are like, damn I’m just hanging around here and you’re making me into gum and water-catchment systems, ok…

7 Likes

Konjac gum…

9 Likes

Is this the same konjac that is banned in certain countries because it is a choking hazard, and used in other countries to make low carb/high fibre diet products?

6 Likes

This sounds really cool. I wonder how the unintended consequences will shake out though.

I can see a use case for hikers, bikers and military types who need to travel light and are willing to pay for that lightness. Also, survival kits, life-rafts and that sort of thing.

Hopefully it will become a game-changer for adventurous types the way Gore-tex was in the late '80s.

(I’m trying to think positive, it’s been unusually weird and glum on BB over the last few days)

14 Likes

I wouldn’t worry, the atmosphere is pretty damn massive, constantly on the move, and presumably any moisture traps would only be removing water for the tiny portion of the atmosphere that happens to be really close to ground level and flowing through the traps. Not even a rounding error.

Folks have been using fog traps in the Atacama desert for a long time now:

Depends on relative humidity and temperature, of course, but in many cases it would take somewhere around 30 to 100 cubic meters of air to get 1 liter of water, if I’ve got my conversion correct. A typical hot air balloon has a volume of about 2200 cubic meters.

9 Likes

No matter how good that gel is, I don’t see how it does it without dumping the energy from turning water from vapor to liquid.

14 Likes

Depends on the desert. If it’s not too fra from the ocean there can be quite a bit of moisture in the air. TBF this invention is probably more useful in arid land rather than full on desert.

WHERE the cold waters of the Humboldt current meet the dry hot air along northern Chile, a thick fog rises up off the Pacific and is blown inland over the arid coast.
Fog catchers pull water from air in Chile's dry fields | New Scientist

4 Likes

I think this is about small scale desert survival applications rather than large scale climate change mitigation, so the carbon footprint probably isn’t an issue.

4 Likes

Pish-posh. Windtraps are for people who don’t have enough water discipline to get by on the reclaimed moisture from their own bodily waste.

13 Likes

and noodles…

oishii!

9 Likes

UT Austin, here’s your merit badge:

8 Likes

Aren’t they mostly for making underground lakes for eventual terraforming rather than for daily drinking water?

4 Likes