Fog Harvesting For Fresh Water

Fog harvesting devices that gather air-borne water droplets and then concentrate them for use by humans. About nine hundred million people around the world do not have access to a source of clean drinking water.

A fog-harvesting device consists of a fence-like mesh panel, which attracts droplets, connected to receptacles into which water drips. Chhatre has co-authored published papers on the materials used in these devices, and believes he has improved their efficacy. "The technical component of my research is done," Shreerang Chhatre of MIT says. He is pursuing his work at MIT Sloan and the Legatum Center in order to develop a workable business plan for implementing fog-harvesting devices.


(Fog-harvesting mesh)

Chhatre's training as a chemical engineer has focused on the wettability of materials, their tendency to either absorb or repel liquids (think of a duck's feathers, which repel water). A number of MIT faculty have made advances in this area, including Robert Cohen of the Department of Chemical Engineering; Gareth McKinley of the Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Michael Rubner of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Chhatre, who also received his master's degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 2009, is co-author, with Cohen and McKinley among other researchers, of three published papers on the kinds of fabrics and coatings that affect wettability.

One basic principle of a good fog-harvesting device is that it must have a combination of surfaces that attract and repel water. For instance, the shell of Stenocara gracilipes [the Namib beetle] has bumps that attract water and troughs that repel it; this way, drops collects on the bumps, then run off through the troughs without being absorbed, so that the water reaches the beetle's mouth.


(The Namib Desert beetle - photo by Andrew Parker)

SF fans are long familiar with this kind of technology. In his epochal 1965 book Dune, Frank Herbert wrote about the technology used to help human beings survive on a desert planet, one with no surface water.

Learn more about Dune technology like dew collectors. water-repellent surfaces, windtraps and dew gatherers.

Via MIT News.

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