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High-yield solar-driven atmospheric water harvesting of metal–organic-framework-derived nanoporous carbon with fast-diffusion water channels


Solar-driven, sorption-based atmospheric water harvesting (AWH) offers a cost-effective solution to freshwater scarcity in arid areas. Creating AWH devices capable of performing multiple adsorption–desorption cycles per day is crucial for increasing water production rates matching human water requirements. However, achieving rapid-cycling AWH in passive harvesters has been challenging due to sorbents’ slow water adsorption–desorption dynamics. Here we report an MOF-derived nanoporous carbon, a sorbent endowed with fast sorption kinetics and excellent photothermal properties, for high-yield AWH. The optimized structure (40% adsorption sites and ~1.0 nm pore size) has superior sorption kinetics due to the minimized diffusion resistance. Moreover, the carbonaceous sorbent exhibits fast desorption kinetics enabled by efficient solar-thermal heating and high thermal conductivity. A rapid-cycling water harvester based on nanoporous carbon derived from metal–organic frameworks can produce 0.18 L kgcarbon−1 h−1 of water at 30% relative humidity under one-sun illumination. The proposed design strategy is helpful to develop high-yield, solar-driven AWH for advanced freshwater-generation systems.

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Fig. 1: Diffusion process of water vapour in nanoporous carbon.
Fig. 2: Structural and compositional analyses of MOF-derived nanoporous carbon via steam selective etching.
Fig. 3: AWH performance and operational stability of the obtained nanoporous carbon.
Fig. 4: Practical AWH.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.


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We thank S. Liu (Wuhan National High Magnetic Field Center) for the NMR tests; L. Zheng, S. Bao and G. Wen (Nanjing University) for the water isotherm tests; and S. Yuan (Nanjing University) for the determination of the MOF structure. We also acknowledge the micro-fabrication centre of the National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructures (NLSSM) for their technical support. J.Z. acknowledges support from the XPLORER PRIZE. This work was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (nos. 61735008, 52003116, 52102262, 22005139, 12022403 and 51925204), National Key Research and Development Program of China (no. 2021YFA1400700), Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (no. BK20200340), Program for Innovative Talents and Entrepreneur in Jiangsu province, and Jiangsu Planned Projects for Postdoctoral Research Funds (no. 2020Z018). We are grateful to the High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) of Nanjing University for performing the numerical calculations involving the blade cluster system in this paper.

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Y.S., N.X. and J.Z. conceived and designed the project. Y.S., H.Q. and W.Z. performed the material preparation and characterization. G.L. performed the calculations. All the authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ning Xu or Jia Zhu.

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Song, Y., Xu, N., Liu, G. et al. High-yield solar-driven atmospheric water harvesting of metal–organic-framework-derived nanoporous carbon with fast-diffusion water channels. Nat. Nanotechnol. 17, 857–863 (2022).

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