Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati claimed to have developed a new technology to harvest water from the air by using the concept of hydrophobicity.

A team, led by Uttam Manna, Associate Professor of Chemistry, along with his research scholars Kousik Maji, Avijit Das and Manideepa Dhar, published the results of the “path-breaking” work in the journal of Royal Society of Chemistry, IIT-Guwahati said in a release.

“Such water-harvesting techniques use the concept of hydrophobicity or water-repelling nature of some materials. The concept of hydrophobicity can be understood by looking at the lotus leaf,” Professor Manna said.

The research team from IIT-Guwahati has used the concept of chemically patterned SLIPS for the first time, to effectively harvest water from moist air, he added.

“A patterned hydrophilic SLIP was produced by spraying a sponge-like porous polymeric material on top of a simple A4 printer paper. Further, chemically modulated hydrophilic spots were associated on the coating, prior to lubricating with two distinct types of oils.”

“This surface could harvest water from foggy/water vapour laden air without the need for any cooling arrangement,” the release said.

With increasing water scarcity throughout the world, there have been attempts to collect and conserve water through non-traditional means and the IIT-Guwahati scientists have turned to nature to design ways of water harvesting, it said.

“We have produced a highly efficient water harvesting interface. The researchers have also compared the performance of their pitcher-plant inspired SLIPS materials to other bio- inspired ideas and have found theirs to be superior in terms of efficiency of water harvesting,” Professor Manna said. (PTI)