Inspired by Stenocara gracilipes, a beetle found in the Namib Desert, MIT engineer Shreerang Chhatre developed a simple and efficient device that can harvest fog. Being actually an inexpensive way to provide clean drinking water, this fog harvesting device could be perfect for poorer countries, where water scarcity is still an unsolved problem.
On the west coast of Africa, the Stenocara gracilipes beetle takes advantage of its body shapes to survive. The Namibian beetle has bumps on its shell, allowing it to collect water droplets from the fog. That water then reaches the beetle’s mouth due to its unique shell shape. Shreerang Chhatre explained that its fog harvesting device uses a similar kind of attraction and repulsion mechanism.
The amazing device is nothing but a fence-like mesh panel that absorbs the humidity around it. This panel is made from a permeable material so when it is placed in a foggy area it soaks with water. The fence-like structure allows it to collect large amounts of water with little absorption. So, when the panel reaches its maximum storage capacity, water droplets flow into a receptacle.
After Shreerang Chhatre has successfully tested its fog harvesting device in the laboratory, the technology started to generate interest. Using such fog harvesting devices, researchers managed to provide clean water to a village of 150 people in Gautemala. The technology seems to be very promising and it could be a real solution for many of today’s water needs.