"High-Performance Atmospheric Water Extractor for Extreme Climates" by Krista S. Walton


Water scarcity is a growing concern around the world. With an increasing population, rapid urbanization, and climate change, water resources are under immense pressure. According to the United Nations, nearly 2.2 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and it is estimated that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.

The consequences of water scarcity can be devastating, leading to health issues, economic losses, and conflicts over resources.

Atmospheric water extraction is a system that can generate potable water, providing mobile, scalable, and self-sufficient operations. Unfortunately, state-of-the-art fog-harvesting and dew systems are limited to operations where high humidity is available. Other common water generation devices use heat exchangers/condensation techniques to produce liquid water from humid air, but these systems are large, energy-intensive, and require humidity levels at 60% RH or higher. For extreme conditions where water is scarce, an adsorption-based atmospheric water extractor promises to supply drinking water regardless of the weather conditions. The goal of this work is to develop novel adsorbent materials, and design and optimize a high-performance, portable, atmospheric water extractor to provide sufficient daily water supply for individuals across a variety of extreme conditions. This presentation will focus on our recent adsorbent development and scale-up work, with discussions on the current state-of-the-art and challenges to be overcome.


Krista S. Walton is the Associate Dean for Research & Innovation in the College of Engineering and Professor and Robert “Bud” Moeller Faculty Fellow in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. She received her B.S.E. in chemical engineering from the University of Alabama-Huntsville in 2000 and obtained her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Vanderbilt University in 2005. Prof. Walton completed an ACS PRF Postdoctoral Fellowship at Northwestern University in 2006. Her research program focuses on the design, synthesis, and characterization of functional porous materials for use in adsorption applications including CO2 capture, atmospheric water extraction, and air purification. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and presented dozens of plenary lectures, keynotes, and invited seminars.

Prof. Walton co-founded two spin-off companies from her research over the past decade and currently serves as an Associate Editor for the ACS Journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.  She was the founding Director and Lead PI of Georgia Tech’s DOE Energy Frontier Research Center, UNCAGE-ME. She is currently serving as a member of the 2022-2024 cohort of DARPA’s prestigious Defense Science Study Group. Prof. Walton’s accomplishments have been recognized by many national and international awards including the Department of Energy Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for Atomic, Molecular, and Chemical Sciences (2020), the AIChE FRI/John G. Kunesh Award for Excellence in Separations Research (2016), the inaugural International Adsorption Society Award for Excellence in Publications by a Young Member of the Society (2013), and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2008).

Seminar sponsored by the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering