Water is one of the quintessential “ingredients” if life were to be sustained, and in its undeniable role in making sure that life continues, there is every possibility that nations in the future might actually go to war over water instead of other resources. Researchers at MIT’s School of Engineering have teamed up with their colleagues at the Pontifical University of Chile in Santiago, in order to increase water harvesting at the Atacama Desert, which happens to be located on the coast of Chile and is touted to be one of the driest regions on Earth. Using a system of mesh structures that have been erected on high ground which remain cloaked in fog consistently, this allows the system to collect fog while converting it into potable drinking water. Of course, such water can also double up as use in agriculture practices.
This is yet another example of applying biomimicry, as MIT mechanical engineering professor Gareth McKinley referenced organisms which are native to arid regions, the Namib beetle included, that collect fog for hydration purposes. To make sure that they are working on one of the most efficient fog-collection systems possible, the researchers have worked long and hard on various variations in mesh spacing, not to mention the size and fibers’ “wettability.”
Another plus is, such mesh-based fog harvesters happen to be extremely affordable to produce, hence their passive design would not involve any kind of direct operating costs, allowing them to be set up in deserts as well as other arid regions worldwide in a jiffy.