Has science just solved the world’s water crisis?
New technology pulls water out of the air in a way that could be utilized in arid climates such as the desert or small islands.
When an experiment-gone-wrong produced peculiar carbon-rich nanorods, researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory decided to take a closer look.
The found that as humidity levels increased, the nanorods lost weight. They used a microscope to get a close look and observed something rather spectacular: a fluid oozing out from between the tiny rods.
Further experimentation showed that the material absorbs water at lower humidity levels and spotaneously expels at higher humidity levels. Most materials absorb more water vapor as humidity levels rise.
“Our unusual material behaves a bit like a sponge,” David Lao, PNNL post-doctoral research associate, said in a news release. “It wrings itself out halfway before it’s fully saturated with water.”
Lao helped produce the material, though he and his colleagues meant to make magnetic nanowires.
“Now that we’ve gotten over the initial shock of this unforeseen behavior, we’re imagining the many ways it could be harnessed to improve the quality of our lives,” added PNNL engineer David Heldebrant.