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Metal-Organic Frameworks for Water Harvesting from Air, Anywhere, Anytime.


Water is essential to life. It is estimated that by 2050 nearly half of the world population will live in water stressed regions, due to either arid conditions or lack of access to clean water. This Outlook, written for the general readers, outlines the parameters of this vexing societal problem and presents a solution to the global water challenge. There is plenty of water in the air that potentially can be harvested not only from the desert atmosphere where the humidity is low but also from more humid regions of the world where clean water is needed. In principle, the materials used to harvest water from air in these climates should be applicable to deployment anywhere in the world to extract atmospheric water at any time of the year. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have emerged as a unique class of porous materials capable of trapping water at relative humidity levels as low as 10%, and doing so with facile uptake and release kinetics. From laboratory testing to field trials in the driest deserts, kilogram quantities of MOFs have been tested in several generations of devices. The initial results of these experiments showed that MOFs could capture water from desert climates and deliver over one liter per kilogram of MOF per day. More than an order of magnitude increase in water productivity could be achieved with members of the MOF family when employed in an electrified device operating at many cycles per day. We show that the vision of having clean water from air anywhere in the world at any time of the year is potentially realizable with MOFs and so is the idea of giving "water independence" to the citizens of the world.

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