Can Water be Extracted From Thin Air?

Published by Daniel Ozori on

can water be extracted from air

Water is popularly known in chemistry as the universal solvent, it takes up 71% of the earth’s surface, and roughly every living being needs it for survival.

Part of that 71% includes the atmosphere, water moves around in our atmosphere as moisture even in very arid places like the desert.

So the question is can water water be extracted from thin air?

To answer this question we need to first understand how it got into our atmosphere in the first place

This air is part of the water cycle, an earth process. Crudely put, water evaporates out of rivers, lakes, and the ocean.

It’s carried up into the atmosphere, where it can collect into clouds (which are actually just accumulations of water vapor).

Related: how long would you last in space without your helmet

After the clouds reach the saturation point, water droplets will form, which we know as rain.

This rain runs off the land and collects into bodies of water, where the whole process begins again.

Now that we know the process, is time to think, is there a way to reverse it?

Luckily for us yes, scientists found a way to do just this

An atmospheric water generator (AWG) is a device that extracts water from humid ambient air. 

Water vapor in the air can be extracted by condensation  – cooling the air below its dew point, exposing the air to desiccants, or pressurizing the air.

Unlike a dehumidifier, an AWG is designed to render the water potable. AWGs are useful where pure drinking water is difficult or impossible to obtain because there is almost always a small amount of water in the air that can be extracted.

The two primary techniques in use are cooling and desiccants.

The extraction of atmospheric water may require a significant input of energy.

Some AWG methods are completely passive, relying on natural temperature differences, and requiring no external energy source.

Biomimicry studies have shown the beetle Stenocara gracilipes has the natural ability to perform this task.

Categories: Chemistry


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