Saudi scientists have invented solar powered systems: taking water from the air and growing vegetables in the desert

A6021 schematic diagram of wec2p system & nbsp; Source: Renyuan Li

Saudi scientists used a unique hydrogel to create a solar powered system. The system shows how to use water in the air to successfully grow spinach while generating electricity.

Recently, in a research paper published in cell report physical science, a journal of Cell Press, researchers at King Abdullah University of science and technology provided a sustainable and low-cost strategy through proof of concept design to improve food and water security of people living in arid climate areas.

The solar panel is connected to a plant growth box containing 60 spinach seeds. Source: Renyuan Li

“There are still some people in the world who do not have access to clean water and green energy, and many of them live in rural areas and arid or semi-arid climate areas.” Wang Peng, the corresponding author of the paper and professor of environmental science and engineering at King Abdullah University of science and technology, said, “the system we designed extracts water from the air while generating clean energy. It is suitable for scattered and small-scale farms in remote areas such as deserts and Ocean Islands.”

It is a kind of “self-sufficient and self-sufficient system driven by electricity and solar energy”. It consists of a solar panel coated with hydrogel. Hydrogel is a soft hydrophilic polymer. Wang Peng’s team developed this hydrogel in previous research, which effectively absorbs water vapor in the surrounding air and releases moisture during heating.

A solar panel coated with hydrogel is mounted on the top of a huge metal box. The metal box collects the water vapor in the air and condenses it into water for planting crops. In addition, the efficiency of solar panels is increased by 9% by absorbing heat and lowering the temperature of the panels.

Last June, the weather in Saudi Arabia was very hot. Wang Peng’s team conducted a two-week plant growth experiment using wec2p. They only use water collected from the air to irrigate 60 spinach seeds planted in plant growth boxes.

During the experiment, the solar panel, which is similar to the size of a student’s desk, generated 1519 watts / hour of power (almost enough to power an incandescent bulb for 24 hours). 57 of the 60 spinach seeds germinated and grew normally to 18 cm. Overall, about 2 liters of water condensate from hydrogels in two weeks.

“Ensuring that everyone on earth has access to clean water and affordable clean energy is part of the United Nations sustainable development goals. Our goal is to create an integrated system for clean energy, water and food production, especially the production of water, so that our design is different from the current agricultural photovoltaic power generation.” Wang Peng said.

In order to transform the concept verification design into the actual product, the team plans to create a better hydrogel that absorbs more moisture from the air. In addition, the performance of the system needs to be further greatly improved and the cost needs to be reduced in order to be economically attractive.

Related paper information: org/10.1016/j.xcrp. two thousand and twenty-two point one zero zero seven eight one

Source: China Science Daily