A novel class of interpenetrating hydrogel materials for all-weather-condition water harvesting

Physical Sciences : Materials and Compounds

Available for licensing

Inventors

  • Guihua Yu, Ph.D. , Mechanical Engineering
  • Fei Zhao , University of Texas at Austin
  • Xingyi Zhou, B.S. , Mechanical Engineering

Background/unmet need

Fresh water shortage has been declared one of the greatest threats to the development of human civilization. Such dire warnings have given rise to research on water harvesting, a field focused on developing new methods for harvesting water from natural sources.

Early efforts, such as the collection of rainwater and reverse osmosis purification of brine, have already provided solutions. However, these methods cannot be generalized because of their dependence on the regional conditions (such as littoral).

Novel solutions to the problem of moisture collection without location limitations have attracted increasing attention in recent years. There is a large amount of water vapor in the atmosphere, which means that theoretically, the air is a great resource of water.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have invented a novel class of Interpenetrating hydro-gel materials, with example as hybrid interpenetrating gel for all-weather-condition water harvesting. In this unique design, the micro-gel could efficiently absorb moisture from air and condense the vapor water under varying relative humidity, thus achieving water collection from air for different weather conditions.

Meanwhile, the gel could store water molecules and release pure water when heated by solar radiation, achieving a radiation responsive behavior for water release. Thus, the interpenetrating hydro-gel could serve as a self-powered pure water generator.

Benefits/Advantages

  • The water harvester described in this invention is based on spontaneous water absorption enabled by chemical potential energy.
  • The interpenetrating hydro-gel design ensures that the water harvesting could be processed without any pre-condensation (pressurization or refrigeration), thus overcoming environmental dependence.
  • The water collection of this interpenetrating hydrogel could be controlled.
  • The interpenetrating hydro-gel could serve as water management system from collection to storage to controllable release.
  • The process is scalable and cost-effective. 

Features

    A hybrid interpenetrating gel for all-weather water harvesting from air with high efficiency

Market potential/applications

Drinkable water production 

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 1 PCT patent application filed