While science has already dashed our hopes of ever owning a real lightsaber (thanks a lot, reality), it looks like there are some technologies popularized by Star Wars that could one day be within our grasp. According to a new report, the moisture farming technique used by Luke Skywalker’s Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen to get by living on Tatooine is now becoming a scientific reality.
In the Star Wars universe, moisture farming is pretty much what it sounds like: harnessing the water vapor present in the air and turning it into liquid water that can be used for drinking, irrigation, and other necessities. The original Star Wars film doesn’t go very in-depth into the process, but we do know that the Skywalker farm uses a device called a Vaporator to harness water vapor, which would appear to be a very valuable item on a hot and humid planet like Tatooine.
Amin Al-Habaibeh — a Professor of Intelligent Engineering Systems at Nottingham Trent University — has actually been working with his team to turn this science-fiction farming technique into a reality. Scientists at M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have developed a technique for trapping water vapor from the air and harvesting water from it. They do this by using solar-powered metal organic frameworks that catch the vapor and use the sun to condense it. According to Al-Habaibeh, his team has developed a more efficient technique that primarily uses recycled refrigerators and freezers. Al-Habaibeh notes that since Tatooine would have such a humid climate, the principle of condensation to turn water vapor into water actually yields a larger output.
If Al-Habaibeh and his team are able to find a way to perform their technique at a low cost, the real-world benefits could be huge. Dry, third-world countries with limited access to water could potentially have a safe way of harnessing clean water. M.I.T. has reportedly been able to collect nearly 3 liters per day without the use an external power source.
Unfortunately, even if moisture farms were to become a reality, there’s no guarantee that disgruntled nephews won’t run off to join a Rebellion.