Meet the world’s first technology that captures water passively from the air…

 

The problem

The supply of clean water is one of the most significant global challenges of the 21st century.
According to the World Health Organization, 785 million people still lack access to basic drinking-water service. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a contaminated drinking water source. It is estimated that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. [1]

 

 

 

The solution

 

ACWA is a multidisciplinary research program aimed at providing a sustainable, delocalized water source at low cost.

 

Our goal is to develop a low cost technique to capture water from air without any moving parts. The inspiration of our water capture technology came from a micropatterning technique developed in A/Prof Chiara Neto’s lab. These polymer surfaces with raised hydrophilic bumps on a hydrophobic background facilitates water condensation from air.[2]

Micropatterned polymer surfaces of raised hydrophilic bumps on a hydrophobic background facilitate water condensation from air (blue circles).

 

ACWA’s technology will produce the world’s first passive atmospheric water capture technology that functions 24 hours a day.

 

Research opportunities available

STRUCTURED COATINGS FOR WATER CAPTURE
(available as a Honours, MSc and PhD project)

This project aims to design micro-structured polymer surfaces that collect water from the atmosphere, as part of a large multidisciplinary Grand Challenge project involving academics from across the University. The surfaces are patterned, consisting of isolated hydrophilic droplets on a hydrophobic background. The produced patterns mimic the surface structure that is present on a beetle native of the Namib desert, which collects drinking water on its patterned back. We are using technology that will help us collect water without any energy input and no moving parts, in a delocalised fashion. Future research could lead to the use of these coatings in the real-world, to provide decentralised and convenient water collection means to alleviate water scarcity. For a video illustrating the principle visit https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/lotus-effect/11013104

Supervisor: A/Prof Chiara Neto
Contact details: chiara.neto@sydney.edu.au

Ref:

[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drinking-water

[2] O. Al-Khayat, K. Geraghty, K. Shou, A. Nelson and C. Neto, Macromolecules, 2016, 49, 1344–1352.