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天方夜谭?从空气中提取水资源

更新时间:2017/10/12 13:38:48 来源:本站原创 作者:佚名

Tapping H2O from thin air could solve looming water crises
天方夜谭?从空气中提取水资源

Water: it poses one challenge after the next in the 21st Century. It’s increasingly scarce, it’s increasingly dangerous as sea levels rise, and it’s increasingly changing the workforce.

水:21世纪的今天,水资源一次又一次对人类构成挑战。水资源变得越来越匮乏,随着海平面上升,水资源越发面临危险,与此同时,水资源也在日益改变着劳动力结构。

But one of its most vital functions is often overlooked: the fact that it’s a lynchpin for (relative) world peace. Without clear distinctions of who it belongs to and how to share it, the world would be thrown into chaos.

但是,水资源最重要的一项功能却往往被忽视:事实上,它是世界和平的关键要素(相对而言)。对于水资源的权属以及水资源的分享,如果没有明确的区分,世界将陷入混乱。

Earlier this year as part of our Grand Challenges series, we reached out to a panel of water experts to describe the big problems we’re facing when it comes to the precious commodity. What they said was clear: “hydro-politics” – politics surrounding the availability and accessibility to water – will shape the 21st Century.

今年早些时候,作为我们大挑战系列(Grand Challenges Series)的一部分,我们采访了一组水资源方面的专家,向他们陈述了在面对稀缺的水资源时我们所面临的重大问题。他们的回应直白清晰:"水政治"—即围绕水资源的供应和获得展开的政治活动—将塑造21世纪。

Take an example: the Nile flows through myriad countries, starting in Ethiopia and ending in Egypt. That gives Ethiopia an upper hand in geopolitics, because if tensions prompted it, it could theoretically cut off or limit that huge water supply to Egypt.

举个例子:尼罗河流经众多国家,发源于埃塞俄比亚,终于埃及。这就使得埃塞俄比亚在地缘政治方面占有上风,因为如果受紧张局势推动,理论上埃塞俄比亚可以切断或限制对埃及的庞大供水。

In an ever-changing world with an ever-changing climate, water is integral to prevent widespread conflict. But how can we ensure that everyone get their fair share?

在气候不断变化世界不断变化的今天,对于防止发生广泛冲突,水资源不可或缺。然而,我们如何才能确保每个人都能得到他们公平的份额呢?

As part of our Grand Ideas follow-up series, we reached back out to our panel and asked them to nominate solutions to the looming challenges facing the world.

作为我们大构想(Grand Ideas)后续系列的一部分,我们再次与我们的专家小组交流,并要求他们对世界所面临的迫在眉睫的挑战提出解决方案。

One of those experts is Zenia Tata, executive director of global development and international expansion at the non-profit XPrize. Tata’s solution? Through clever technology, give a greater number of people the ability to tap their own water.

非营利机构XPrize全球发展和国际扩张执行董事齐尼娅·塔塔(Zenia Tata)是其中的一位专家。塔塔给出了怎样的解决方案?——通过先进的技术,让更多人有能力自己采集水资源。

“The obvious revolution is to create decentralised, on-demand, community-level systems – giving people their basic needs, wherever and whenever they want them,” Tata says.

塔塔说:"颇为显著的变革就是建立分散的、按需获取的,社区层面的体系——无论何时何地,满足人们基本的需求。

To that end, her organisation, XPrize, has created a Water Abundance project that aims to make water more available for all – through technology.

为此,她所在的组织XPrize创立了一个叫作"丰富水源"(Water Abundance)的项目,旨在通过技术让水资源变得更易于获取。

In a $1.75m (£1.29m) prize competition, the non-profit is asking teams of engineers from around the world to create “a device that extracts a minimum of 2,000 litres of water per day from the atmosphere using 100% renewable energy, at a cost of no more than two cents per litre.” Or as the organisation puts it, “harvesting fresh water from thin air”. If the XPrize competitors can come up with such a device, it’ll be revealed next August.

在一项奖金高达175万美元(约合129万美元)的竞赛中,该非营利机构对来自世界各地的工程师团队提出挑战,即打造一款设备,利用100%可再生能源,每天从大气中提取至少2,000升的水,而每升所需的成本不超过2美分。或者用该组织的话来说,"从稀薄的空气中收获水资源"。如果XPrize的参赛者能够打造出这样一种装置,那么明年8月将会在全球亮相。

It might sound difficult, but researchers are already well on the way to achieving this goal. One team that has already been exploring water-harvesting technology is led by Omar Yaghi at the University of California, Berkeley. Using materials called metal organic frameworks – a powder that ‘harvests’ liquid from the atmosphere in its pores, they have shown that as little as 1kg of the powder can trap nearly 3 litres of water in only 12 hours. In humid parts of the world, this technology could provide an entirely new water source for people, without having to rely on centralised gatekeepers.

这一挑战或许听上去十分棘手,但研究人员对实现这一目标正全力以赴。由加州大学伯克利分校奥马·亚吉(Omar Yaghi)率领的一支团队已着手探索水资源收集技术。他们使用了一种被称为金属有机框架的材料——一种可通过其细孔从大气中收集液体的粉末,正如他们的展示,只需1公斤这样的粉末就能在12小时内汲取3公升的水。在潮湿的地区,这一技术可为人们提供一个全新的水源,而不必依靠中央化的供应。

Since the dawn of humanity, it can be argued that fresh water has been the most basic, most important thing for survival. But as we move further into the 21st Century, water is now even more important. Its availability (will there be enough?) and accessibility (will everyone get some?) will be key issues the human race will have to grapple with.

从人类诞生以来,可以说淡水是生存最基本、最重要的物质。但是,随着我们进一步驶入21世纪,水资源变得愈发重要。它的供应(是否足够?)和获得(是否人人都可以获得)将是人类必须解决的关键问题。

Luckily, there’s no shortage of people with ideas ready to tackle this issue….

幸运的是,我们并不缺少有想法且可以解决这一问题的人。

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