Water Bottle Harvests Water From Air

Written by Mike Awada on . Posted in Gadgets, Science, Social Media, Technology

namib-beetle-harvests-water-from-air

There are nearly four quadrillion gallons of water in the air, yet people all over the world are still thirsty. Scientists have been working to break into this untapped resource for over a decade, and are making some incredible breakthroughs.

Progress in this field has been made by studying the survival mechanisms of an insect living in one of the most hostile regions on the planet.

The Namib Desert, located on the Southwest African coast, has sands reaching temperatures upwards of 140 °F. Here, there is less than 1/2″ of rainfall per year, yet the Namib Desert Beetle manages to survive each and every year.

Stenocara Solution

National Geographic describes the Namib Desert Beetle, also known as the stenocara, as a desert MacGyver. The stenocara is equipped with an armor like shell covered with bumps. The peak of each bump is hydrophilic, meaning that it attracts water. The slopes and valleys in between bumps are hydrophobic, meaning they repel water.

The Namib Desert Beetle climbs atop a desert hill in the morning as a fog sweeps over the land. The stenocara angles its body into the wind and miniscule water droplets from the fog stick to the hydrophilic peaks and gradually form droplets. Once enough water has accumulated, the droplets roll effortlessly down the hydrophobic slopes directly into the insect’s mouth, sustaining its life in the normally inhospitable environment.

Researchers are mimicking this natural trait to develop a bevy of important water harvesting platforms, including tent covers and roof tiles several times more effective at capturing H2O than the next most effective method. In the near future, it looks as if we’ll have water bottles that can capture drinkable water from the air as well.

NBD Nano: Self-Refilling Water Bottle

A company called NBD Nano is implementing this technology originally found only in nature into water bottles, with the hope that they’ll continually fill themselves while you’re on the go. In an interview with Public Radio International, we learn that the conceptual self-filling bottle can operate using a rechargeable battery or solar cell to speed-up accumulation and filter the water.

NBD Nano co-founder Deckard Sorensen wants this green technology available in all walks of life; installing it on people, cars, homes and anything else you can imagine. Sorensen believes that in a climate with 75% humidity, his device can harvest “three liters per square meter per hour”.

“We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution.”

Global Implications

While the invention is certainly fascinating for the first world consumer, perhaps the most important use of this technology will be for the billion plus people who live without access to clean, drinkable water everyday.

NBD Nano hopes to have the self-refilling water bottle to market in 2014. How do you think we should use the technology?


PRI.org

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Comments (18)

  • BAReFOOt

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    The only problem would be if rooms become too dry. Or the air simply becomes even more dry. That’s rather unhealthy.

    But for places with high air humidity and low amount of available water… (like where the humid air just flows over the place and away, never sticking to anything)… this could be useful.

    Reply

    • Pat

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      Useful? Wow, that’s a monumental understatment! This is something that will change the entire world and will be an enormous boon to all humankind!

      Reply

    • Tim

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      I don’t know if I agree with low humidity being “unhealthy”. I grew up in Tucson, AZ (US) and humidity levels often drop below 20%. I don’t think there was ever concern for this being unhealthy.

      Reply

  • rkl

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    Hmmm…needs a battery or solar cell to operate? Diminishes its green credentials a bit, plus surely that will push the price of the bottle up and also make it less durable? Now a self-watering bottle that required no electronics at all – that would be *truly* impressive (and hopefully cheap to make – the people who need this tech aren’t rich!).

    Reply

    • Dudley

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      Why would a solar cell negate green? I thought solar power was green.

      Reply

    • Artor

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      From what I got from the article, the fan only helps it to work faster. In good conditions, it sounds like it works just fine without. I’d love to see one working here in the perpetually damp Pacific Northwest.

      Reply

  • Infinaught

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    The power would most probably be used for a fan to increase the air flow; without it, the efficiency would be significantly decreased. This is very ambitious IMHO and unlikely to produce this much output, but highly impressive regardless.

    Reply

  • Best Man

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    Moisture condensers exist now already. Just plug them into wind turbines and you are set to go.

    Reply

  • Trekkie

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    To Best Man, the point is to have water without plugging anything in. This is a truly valuable technology and potential use of said technology. Issue may arise in States like Colorado who regulate water rights even for rain water. I wonder if extensive use of such devices would impact weather as moisture levels in the air are impacted. With regulation, this device (if effective) would be a Godsend to certain parts of the world. In our world, the water companies would probably raise their rates to compensate for the lost revenue.

    Reply

  • Paul

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    For marathons, hiking, backpacking, this is a great idea.
    To imply it solves the problem of living in places with no clean water, not so much. No water is just part of the problem that usually includes poor sewage, and no food. The solution to that is to move away, not try to fix it.

    Reply

  • redesigned

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    so we can make working stillsuits now? that will lower the cost of spice.

    did anyone else think? “mmmmmmmm….nothing like a room temperature bottle full of coworkers sweat and exhaled moisture.” :-)

    when the application is right this concept is pure genius, i just hope they don’t start making sports water bottles for the gym, blech.

    Reply

  • Nom Nom

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    Hey Redesigned, I was thinking the same thing. Nothing like a warm cup of Joe…. and Dave and Mary and Pete. We just need to incorporate the filter and setup the flow like our lymph system and it is still suits away.

    Reply

  • Trekkie

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    OMG Redesigned, The salvation of Dune and improved ability to mine spice was the first thought that came to my mind too! To the naysayers, “Fear is the mind killer” as to the technology, “What the eyes have seen, the mind cannot erase”.

    Reply

  • jim

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    I WANT a bunch of this stuff. To dehumidify my basement, which presently costs me $1 a day in electricity. I’ll throw out the water, I got plenty of that.

    Reply

  • FreeTibet

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    For Marathons?
    I doubt it. I run 3.5 hours. Will it give me about 6 cups of water in that time?

    Anyways. Awesome for survival situations. Life rafts should have them (does it work with salty tasting sea air or will the water contain salt at the end? Books which I read as kids had conflicting information. Some say condensed water is fine, others say not so much.

    Reply

  • Tazza

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    Freetibet: No offense honestly intended, but where do you think clouds come from?

    Reply

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