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Cheap gel can grab gallons of drinking water from the air every day

Researchers from the University of Texas have developed a new gel film which can grab gallons of drinking water from thin air every day. The new tech, dubbed SHPF, is also cheap and easy to make, which suggests that this could be a breakthrough process in the AWH (atmospheric water harvesting) field.

The SHPF (super hygroscopic polymer film) material is made from plant cellulose and konjac gum, which are both widely available and cheap to process. The resulting product – costing around $2 per kilogram – can be mixed, poured and freeze dried in minutes, after which it’s ready to start pulling water from the air. To recover the water, all that’s needed is a little gentle heat. Many of the technologies we’ve reported on in the past have involved complicated and expensive equipment, so it’s great to find something that appears to be easy enough for almost anyone to make and use. Perfect for the hotter, less developed, parts of the world.

The other key part of the equation is the gel can operate quite happily in areas with low levels of humidity, which again is a big plus point over other processes. One third of the planet has less than 40% humidity. A single kilogram of the gel can produce over 6 litres of water per day in areas with less than 15% relative humidity. Pretty amazing and definitely one to watch!

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