WashU affiliated authors: Hongmin Wang, Haoru Yang, Reagan Woon, Julio. M. D’Arcy (Dept. of Chemistry); Yang Lu, Yifan Diao (Institute of Material Science & Engineering)
Abstract: Atmospheric water harvesting is a promising technology for alleviating global water scarcity. Current water sorption materials efficiently capture water vapor from ubiquitous air; however, they are difficult to scale up due to high costs, complex device engineering, and intensive energy consumption. Fired red brick, a low-cost masonry construction material, holds the potential for developing large-scale functional architectures. Here, we utilize fired red brick for atmospheric water harvesting by integrating a microtubular coating of the conducting polymer PEDOT within its inorganic microstructure. This microtubular polymer coating affords hygroscopicity and high surface area for water nucleation, enables capillary forces to promote water transport, and enhances the water harvesting efficiency. Our brick composite achieves a maximum water vapor uptake of ∼200 wt % versus polymer mass at 95% relative humidity, decreasing to ∼15 wt % at 40% relative humidity. Facile water release is demonstrated via thermal, electrical, and illuminative heating. This proof-of-concept study demonstrates the potential of masonry construction materials for large-scale atmospheric water harvesting.