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MIT's prototype water harvesting device. Photo: Alina LaPotin

Researchers developed a workable, solar-powered device that can extract drinkable water directly from the air, even in desert regions.

Why it matters: If the technology can be made commercially viable, it could help alleviate water scarcity in some of the world's driest regions.

What's happening: Researchers at MIT and several other institutions published a paper earlier this week describing how they were able to significantly boost the output of a prototype water-harvesting device.

  • The original design harnessed temperature differences within the device to draw in moisture from the air at night and release it the next day. But its utility was limited because it required specialized and expensive materials called metal organic frameworks.
  • The new design adds a second stage and makes use of a more common material called zeolite, doubling its capacity to generate water.

Details: While other harvesting technologies that can draw water from fog or dew exist, they generally require humidity levels of at least 50%, if not much higher.

  • The new design, by contrast, can work with humidity levels as low as 20%, good enough to operate on an average day in a desert city like Phoenix.

The catch: Even the improved system can still only produce 0.8 liters of water per square meter per day, while humans need at least 2.5 liters per day to survive.

Go deeper

Oct 26, 2020 - Podcasts

Amy Coney Barrett's first week

The Senate will vote Monday to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. She'll get to work immediately on major cases including the future of the Affordable Care Act and any election-related cases already on the docket.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 9 hours ago - Economy & Business

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a restaurant platform sponsored by private equity firm Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.