Alternative water source thanks to tailor-made MOF structures.

Today, many people are concerned about the human impact on the resources and ecology of our planet. I believe you are one of them! However, if no, I suggest watching a movie “Home” by Yann Arthus Bertrand showing our influence on flora, fauna and water. You will see that there’s a real need to find an alternative water source. Could tailor-made MOF structures be the answer?

The amount of freshwater that is easily accessible is rapidly shrinking. As a result part of the population already experiencing water shortages and freshwater availability will be further strained.  (1)
Fortunately, innovations in science can overcome this issue. For example, one of the possible courses to obtain clean water is to harvest it from the atmosphere. To do so, researchers offer to use relatively new and emerging porous material with a number of benefits – MOF

Metal organic frameworks or MOFs are crystalline materials based on metal ions/clusters linked by organic molecules. Besides the large surface area, MOFs can be easily tuned thanks to their modular structure giving almost unlimited number of options. (2) Researchers from University of California–Berkeley together with colleagues from KACST (Saudi Arabia) showed that MOFs can be used to collect water from the air even in low-humidity conditions such as deserts. 

How can MOFs help to provide an alternative water source?

Firstly, scientists worked with MOF-801, a crystalline zirconium MOF, showing water uptake and release properties. It could produce 100 g of water per kilogram of MOF-801 per day-and-night cycle.(3) However later researchers developed a next-generation desiccant MOF using aluminium instead of zirconium (MOF-303), Consequently more than twice the amount of water can be delivered in comparison to MOF-801. Under conditions as extreme as 10% relative humidity and 27 °C, MOF-303 can give 0.7−1.0 L water/kg of MOF per day.(4) Inspired by the opportunity to deliver clean water in any region of the Earth, a spin-off Water Harvesting Inc. is planning to release a latest MOF water harvester running on electricity as a first step towards “pure water from air… anywhere”.(5) 

Written by Alla Malinenko

Alla is Senior Technology Scout at TechScout


[1] – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction (Paris, 2012).

[2] – Furukawa. H., et al. Science., 2013, 341, 1230444.

[3] – Fathieh F., et al. Sci. Adv., 2018, 4: eaat3198.

[4] – Hanikel, N., ACS Cent. Sci., 2019, 5, 1699.

[5] –