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With our world experiencing a water crisis which involves an estimated 790 million people without access to an improved water supply, science is constantly looking for ways to find new sources of clean water. While there have been many new innovations in water technologies over the years that seek to combat the water crisis, it’s always cause to celebrate when a new technology is introduced. The latest innovation to revolutionize the way we source water involves research from the National University of Singapore who have created a new substance which allows water to be extracted from air without the need of external power.

Today, Optimum will be exploring this latest innovation, describing the impact that it could have on the current water crisis. With the Earth’s atmosphere containing enough water to fill almost half a trillion Olympic swimming pools, this technology offers the opportunity to take advantage of a water source that we have yet to tap. Let’s learn more about this fascinating invention!

What is Smart Aerogel?

So, how exactly does this new technology from researchers at the National University of Singapore work? Well, the substance used to extract water from the air is a smart aerogel, a solid and lightweight material, that could be used to create drinkable water for those living in environments where it is difficult to access clean water for drinking purposes. When looked at underneath a microscope, this smart aerogel resembles a sponge, but it doesn’t have to be squeezed to release the water which it absorbs from the air. Additionally, it doesn’t need a battery to extract the water.

Continuously gathering water molecules from the air, the smart aerogel then condenses them into a liquid before releasing water. In a humid environment, one kilogram of smart aerogel can produce 17 liters (or about 4.5 gallons) of water in a day. When there is a lot of sunshine, the aerogel can further boost the water release by transitioning to a complete water-hating state. The smart aerogel has produced some really impressive results thus far. Overall, 95% of the water vapor that goes into the aerogel comes out as water. Further, in laboratory tests, the aerogel produced water non-stop for months on end. When tested by the World Health Organization, the water produced by the smart aerogel was found to meet their standards for drinking water.

The NUS researchers announced their creation in the publication Science Advances on October 16, 2020. Currently, the researchers are looking for industry partners to scale up for both industrial and domestic use. When commenting on the importance of the technology, Professor Ho, one of the researchers involved said, “Given that atmospheric water is continuously replenished by the global hydrological cycle, our invention offers a promising solution for achieving sustainable freshwater production in a variety of climatic conditions, at minimal energy cost.”

What Does This Technology Mean for the Battle Against the Water Crisis?

According to UNICEF and WHO, 1 in 3 people globally do not have access to clean drinking water. This was determined in a report published in 2019 where the inequalities in access to water, sanitation, and hygiene were observed, revealing that more than half of the world does not have access to safe sanitation services.

The report reveals that 1.8 billion people have gained access to basic drinking water services since the year 2000, and yet there are still vast inequalities in the accessibility, availability, and quality of these services. In total, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people (roughly 785 million) still lack basic services. This includes the 144 million who drink untreated surface water. These statistics highlight the need for technologies that provide access to clean sources of water for populations in need.

With technologies like the smart aerogel being produced, we can only hope that such innovations will soon make an observable impact on the global water crisis. While other scientists have previously devised ways to extract water from the air, their designs had to be powered either by sunlight or electricity and possessed moving parts that had to be either opened or closed. The smart aerogel isn’t limited by such demands, making it the best technology of its kind when it comes to providing clean water to those who need it.

Enjoy the Cleanest Water with Optimum!

Now that you know more about one of the important technologies that can work to help solve the water crisis that we expect to make a positive impact, it’s time to talk about another technology that makes access to clean, safe drinking water more convenient than ever: Optimum bottleless water systems.

Our Optimum water systems are eco-friendly, easy to maintain, and cost-effective. Each of our water cooler systems are designed with a positive impact on the environment in mind and, similarly to the mission of the smart aerogel highlighted in this article, is focused on providing the cleanest water. If you’d like to see just how much money and negative environmental impact you can save by using one of our water systems, try one FREE for seven days! Check out our selection today to choose the best system for your home or office