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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

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder charged in Flint water probe

Rick Snyder. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty in an investigation into the Flint water crisis, according to Genessee County District Court records and multiple local reports on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Flint saw its drinking water contaminated with high levels of lead in 2014, spurring a public health disaster. The lead-contaminated water was blamed for an outbreak of Legionnaires disease that killed at least 12 people.

24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel escorted out of RNC retreat

Ohio Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel. Photo: Chris Maddaloni / Getty Images

During this weekend’s highly anticipated donor retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee in Palm Beach, Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel was escorted off the premises while his primary opponent, Jane Timken, was allowed to stay, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell Axios.

What we’re hearing: The invitation-only event is taking place at the Four Seasons Resort, and the RNC reserved the entire hotel. While Timken, former Ohio GOP chair, was invited to the event “because she is a major donor” — Mandel was not, so he was asked to leave, according to one of the sources

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Report: John Kerry plans to visit China ahead of Biden's climate summit

John Kerry. Photo: Zach Gibson / Stringer

John Kerry, President Biden's special climate envoy, is expected to travel to China next week for meetings with officials aimed at boosting collaboration, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

Why it matters: China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter and the U.S. is second-largest.