University of Limerick and Molecule RnD Ltd. unveil commercially viable nanomaterial to solve the global city heat island effect and enable office buildings to produce their own water from air
LIMERICK, Ireland, Oct. 29, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- University of Limerick and Molecule RnD Ltd., an impact-oriented international think tank, research group and incubator fund, today announced the release of their newest engineered nanomaterial, code-named Regeneration Optimized Sorbent 37 (ROS-037), to the global heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), humanitarian, defense, industrial and commercial air management markets.
The revolutionary new material was developed as a result of decades of research by Professor Michael Zaworotko, Bernal Chair of Crystal Engineering and Science Foundation of Ireland Research Professor at UL's Bernal Institute, in collaboration with Molecule to bring ROS-037 to market. The key feature of the new desiccant replacement material is that it operates exactly like the inorganic desiccants used today but regenerates at 120°F instead of 400°F. This drastically reduces the amount of energy used by existing dehumidifier equipment and enables adopters of the technology to meet the new energy efficiency standards being rolled out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
"We approached Mike to develop a material for us that could help solve the global water crisis," says Kurt Francis, Molecule's CTO. "Together, our teams meshed to bridge the gap between academic scientific research with real world product development, engineering and business development. This allowed us to go rapidly from a Technology Readiness Level (TRL-1) to TRL-6 in less than one year. We are on track to reach TRL-10 by next spring on this revolutionary project."
"Without water, there is no life, no Plan B," says Professor Michael Zaworotko, Bernal Chair of Crystal Engineering at UL, Principal Investigator and inventor of the material that is behind the technology. "About one third of the world's population does not have access to pure water and this technology helps to solve that problem."
"Dehumidifiers are a surprisingly huge global industry and are found wherever air management is needed, in everything from office buildings to pharmaceuticals to dairy production," says Kurt Francis. "What's been holding them back is that they're inefficient due to the heat required to dry out the water vapor during the regeneration cycle. This technology solves that problem by simply replacing inorganic desiccants, today's technology, with our ROS-037 material used in desiccant rotors. As a result, you can curb your emissions and energy costs immediately."
"To do this, we have discovered a sorbent that has improved the kinetics and energetics of water absorption/desorption by far over conventional desiccants," says Professor Zaworotko. "This reduces the energy consumption of traditional dehumidifiers, enabling them to be transformed into water generating equipment, thus helping the global energy efficiency and water crises."
"We're excited because this one material developed in collaboration with University of Limerick unlocks a path to real commercial solutions globally," said Bjorn Simundson, Molecule's CEO. "What I find amazing is that the material runs so cool compared to today's inorganic desiccants, that the previously wasted superheated moisture that was vented outside from industrial dehumidifiers, which people say can be attributed to the heat island climate change effect, can instead be cooled and condensed into a new source of usable water. This is achieved by adding simple and inexpensive refrigeration equipment to the exhaust stream. The result is that you can repurpose HVAC equipment already on your rooftop to provide your building with a new source of incredibly clean water without a traditional water supply, allowing you to curb your energy and water use at the same time. Not only that, our technology is scalable up and down and even operates at 12% relative humidity, which is lower than the driest part of the Sahara Desert. We designed and built a working prototype to prove this concept and are now designing efficient and scalable systems, dynamic and rugged enough for use by humanitarian NGOs and defense organizations to produce water from air in remote locations, with certain designs using only a vehicle alternator, batteries and/or solar power. University of Limerick and Molecule is making decentralized water a reality while also having massive implications for the HVAC industry globally."
Non-Government-Organizations (NGOs), civil engineering firms, HVAC suppliers, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps and remote medical facilities have already shown interest and some have even started placing requests for information (RFIs), letters of interest (LOIs), requests for quotes (RFQs) and purchase orders (POs) and for the Molecule's first commercial units.
"Because of this material's unique design, even during the first set of test runs, the prototype water generator equipment delivered water with a purity of as low as an astonishing 2.5 TDS ppm (total dissolved solids, parts per million) without any filtration other than a MERV-13 air filter," said Kurt. "Normal tap water is 350 TDS ppm to 500 TDS ppm. The beauty of this class of materials is that it works in harmony with nature's natural water cycle and can deliver high-quality water at a minimal energy cost even in the most challenging environmental conditions (e.g. sub 25% relative humidity). With initial prototype testing, we have been able to generate around one liter per hour of pure water under normal real-world ambient conditions with a 30% relative humidity outside. This is important because it demonstrates that by simply harmonizing with the natural water cycle, we can help reduce emissions and recharge the critical water tables around the world."
"The reason the water produced is so pure, is because our material's pore size is less than one nanometer so it only allows pure water vapor in and blocks contaminants from entering as they are simply too big," says Professor Zaworotko.
"Water is a major focus for World Vision and Vision Fund," says Jon Hartley, recently retired Board Chair, Vision Fund International, the micro finance subsidiary of World Vision. "This breakthrough technology to enable potable water to be made more easily and quickly available in places of need around the world should save lives. The ability to generate pure water on demand from even low humidity air should be able to be used in both community development and humanitarian emergency circumstances."
"The ultimate vision is to work together towards a common good," said Frank Jao, Founder of Molecule. "At Molecule and in collaboration with the University of Limerick, we are just combining old-fashioned business ethics with modern technology, to create solutions for the twenty first century. We believe in science serving humanity. It's our turn to give back. This is our legacy."
About University of Limerick
University of Limerick (UL) is an independent, internationally focused university with more than 15,000 students and 1,400 staff. It is a young, energetic and enterprising university with a proud record of innovation in education and excellence in research and scholarship. The Bernal Institute hosts a multidisciplinary team of world-leading scientists and engineers at UL. More information is available at www.ul.ie.
About Molecule RnD LTD
Molecule (www.molecule.ie) is an impact oriented, international think-tank, research group and incubator fund that develops disruptive solutions to industrial, commercial and defense-related processes. Molecule's mission is to give back by using profits to support philanthropic solutions to fundamental environmental and humanitarian challenges.