New Device Generates Drinking Water from Air

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. enclose / ɪnˈkloʊz / (v) – to surround or confine something

    Walls enclose the garden.

  2. humidity / hjuˈmɪdɪti / (n) – moisture in the atmosphere

    The area’s humidity bothers me because I’m sweating despite the moist weather.

  3. evaporate / ɪˈvæpəˌreɪt / (v) – to transform a liquid into gas

    During the experiment, the liquid evaporated into gas.

  4. condense / kənˈdɛns / (v) – to transform or convert gas into liquid

    The device condenses gas to produce water.

  5. airtight / ˈeɚˌtaɪt / (adj) – sealed tightly to prevent air from entering or escaping

    We should keep the leftover food in an airtight bag.


Read the text below.

Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley have developed a prototype that can produce drinkable water out of dry air.

The device is enclosed in a box-like container, which contains a “metal-organic framework” (MOF) and a condenser plate. The sponge-like MOF absorbs water vapor, while the plate collects the condensed vapor.

The prototype runs on solar power and operates on a night-and-day cycle. The MOF absorbs water during nighttime because low temperatures and high humidity ease the process. During daytime, the water evaporates outside the MOF and then condenses on the side of the box-like container.

To test its effectiveness, the scientists placed the device in a desert in Scottsdale, Arizona, which has an intensely dry environment. The device was able to produce seven ounces of drinkable water after an entire night-and-day cycle. The scientists said that despite the low amount of water collected during the test, the prototype can be modified to improve its efficiency.

Currently, the scientists are in the process of developing a cheaper and more efficient version of the MOF. They are hopeful that the future commercialization of the device will be helpful for people living in dry climates.

Similarly, a start-up company called Zero Mass Water also produced a solar-powered equipment that pulls water out of air. Called Source, the device collects water vapor using an air filter. After passing through an airtight system, water vapor transforms into liquid form. The device is also capable of adding calcium and magnesium to the water. According to the company, Source can collect an average of four to 10 liters of water daily.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the MOF prototype should be sold commercially? Why or why not?
• Aside from deserts, in what other areas should the researchers test the MOF prototype (e.g. beaches, humid cities)?

Discussion B

• What other technological devices do you think can be developed to address water shortage?
• Aside from water shortage, what other environmental issues should technology address (e.g. extremely hot weather)? Explain.