The James Dyson Award winners for 2011 have been announced, and the grand prize winner is a piece of clever biomimicry that sits so perfectly in our wheelhouse that we couldn't resist the urge to write about it. Edward Linacre of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne has tapped the Namib beetle--a desert dwelling species that survives in the most arid conditions on Earth--to create an irrigation system that can pull liquid moisture straight out of dry desert air.
Airdrop, as the system is known, borrows a trick from the Namib beetle, which can live in areas that receive just half an inch of rain per year by harvesting the moisture from the air that condenses on its back during the early morning hours. A hydrophilic skin helps to snare water molecules passing on the breeze, which then accumulate into droplets of consumable liquid water.
Airdrop mimics this idea, though on a larger scale. The self-powering device pumps water into a network of underground pipes, where it cools enough for water to condensate. From there the moisture is delivered to the roots of nearby plants. Linacre's math shows that about 11.5 milliliters can be harvested from every cubic meter of air, and further development could raise that number even higher.
Such a system could provide regular moisture to plants being grown in the world's driest regions. And because it is low cost and self-powered, there's not a lot of investment or maintenance involved in deploying Airdrop. The $14,000 award from Dyson (Linacre's university also gets an additional $14,000) should help speed that along.
This year's runners up included a quickly deployable divider for medical settings that lets healthcare professionals make the most of available space and an aide for the blind that uses a special cane and location-based social networking apps to help the visually impaired locate their friends. All of this year's entries can be seen here.
Very cool idea!
But should it be that it pump air into pipes underground where the water vapor then condenses? That would make more sense to me then pumping water underground where it then condenses.
I think you're right Blitz. Also, even though part of me hates to be a grammar troll, the water vapour would then condense. Condensate is a noun. I'd like to trust my science journalism to use proper scientific vocabulary.
Also, did anyone else see this and immediately think Moisture Vaporator?
Uncle Owen: "You, I suppose you're programmed for etiquette and protocol."
C-3PO: "Protocol? Why, it's my primary function, sir. I am well-versed in all the customs--"
Uncle Owen: "I have no need for a protocol droid."
C-3PO: "Of course you haven't, sir. Not in an environment such as this. That is why I have been programmed in--"
Uncle Owen: "What I really need is a droid who understands the binary language of moisture vaporators."
C-3PO: "Vaporators? Sir, my first job was programing binary load lifters very similar to your vaporators in most respects."
Uncle Owen: "Can you speak Bocce?"
C-3PO: "Of course I can, sir. It's like a second language to me. I'm a--"
Uncle Owen: "yeah, alright. Shut up. I'll take this one."
C-3PO: "Shutting up, sir."
Playing Devil's Advocate since 1978
"The only constant in the universe is change"
-Heraclitus of Ephesus 535 BC - 475 BC
The weed in the picture is distracting and it makes me never want to use this item.
I thought Dew Collector.
If you think thats weed I have some primo stuff I can sell you!
Looks like wheat from where I'm sitting. aka food!
This is Amazing!!!! Hopefully this helps ALL of us in the wrong run too.
Wow. Look at all the hair it grew on that kid.
Not sure it is a good idea to try to grow stuff in a desert. Why don't you ship them u-hauls?
There was a civilization in Peru that learned how to use water ditches to both heat and cool and water plants. A 250 year drought wiped them out. I doubt having a few hundred thousand of these gizmos would have saved them but maybe.
Truly a cool product, but yes Blitz, I reckon they pump air into the ground. One other mystery to me is the 11,5 mm. 11,5 mm is a height, not a volume so it says nothing. I would be interested to see it applied in the field
I knew I couldn't be the only one to think moisture farm.
MK actually it says 11.5ml not mm
how is it self-powered? does it really pump (the consensus here is) air?
dig up the land to set a network of pipes
still a great idea, but not as exciting as i originally thought
Yes truly amazing, but...
I am concerned about the possible negative environmental implications of pulling the moisture out, at large scare, of the the already dry desert air. Could this potentially effect weather, or deprive native species for the air/moisture ratio they need to survive?
This is the winner of the James Dyson award, I'm pretty sure that Dyson wouldn't pay 14 grand for something that won't work properly and is inefficient. I'm sure there is a lot more than meets the eye here. If you have done a little research Dyson is not a pushover when it comes to technological innovation. Some things that he has come up with and/or funded are truly amazing.
Nice,this is a good idea and invention for the arab countries like the uae to make a greener environment.
Every invention has its own disadvantages also kmorleyt
Anyone working in the HVACR field could come up with a similar gadget. It would be called a solar absorption system
using ammonia gas and the sun engery for the heat/ generator but it takes someone like Edward Linacre to apply it