New technology could help us fight water shortage
In recent years we are facing sincere water scarcity in vast areas of the world. The world’s population is constantly increasing and with it mankind’s consumption. For almost everything we need from food to clothing and other goods, we depend on water to create. The problem gets worst with climate change causing severe droughts and expansion of desertification. This topic is now the top priority for many groups of researchers and creative minds. One interesting idea is to harvest water from fog. This idea may sound like a far fetch at first but actually, there are already some functioning prototypes and designs.
It is not only an innovative concept it as well has the potential to serve as a turning point in the efforts to recover small water cycles and speed up regenerative agriculture projects in areas suffering from droughts.
How much water does fog contain?
Fog types vary by the local climate of the area so not all types are the same. As a general rule of thumb, it contains about 0.05 to 0.5 milliliters for a thousand liters of foggy air. On its own, this piece of information doesn’t sound so impressive. If you add up to the equation the fact that in some places the wind speed could reach up to one hundred meters per second you will reveal the true potential of such technologies. Such a velocity means that if you have a square meter of fog catcher you could harvest 5 to 50 milliliters of water per second or a few liters per hour. This example is very specific yet it simplifies the understanding of the potential and urgency for such a development more clearly.
Another factor worth considering is that areas close to the coastline usually have higher wind velocity as well as fog more often. Some of our driest deserts are happened to be by the coastline like the Sahara desert in Maroco and Al-Baydha desert in Saudi Arabia. Such places could benefit even further from the development of such technology since it can help them to prevent the expansion of the desert and even the healing of degraded lands.
Where could this method be helpful and used
Fog is created when the air reaches one hundred percent humidity, called saturation level.
There are a few specific climate conditions and geographical areas that are more prone to foggy air. Many of those actually don’t lack in water and therefore are less of interest for this application. On the other hand, the specific conditions of Mountains close to the coastline, which are typical to some of the world’s biggest deserts are very much prone to fog and for them, this technology could be a game changer. Some examples of those regions are the northwest of the Australian desert, the west of the Sahara desert the Chilean Atacama desert, and all of the Arabian peninsula.
The beauty of this technology is that it could start up the vegetation growth in some very dry areas, and start the restoration of small water cycles. In turn, the small water cycles will cause more fog to appear and enhance the transformation. This exponential growth could be a turning point for our efforts to prevent climate change and save many communities from poverty.
Some working examples
Many communities already benefit from this concept of fog water harvesting, especially in rural and remote areas of relatively poor countries in which access to fresh running water can not be taken for granted. One lovely example comes from southwest Maroco in which a few villages from the Berber community have now new hope thanks to this revolutionary idea. Using the cloudfisher system which is one design that brings the idea of harvesting fog, they can now meet their water needs and for the first time have running water and the ability to practice agriculture. You could see a video about this project here.
How fog water harvesting works
Catching water from fog is a pretty low-tech technology that doesn’t require heavy financial investments or complicated machinery to achieve this goal. Think about the dew you see on objects after a cold night the contact with a solid surface of the moist air makes little water drops form. Same with fog water harvesters we usually use plastic nets at a 90 degrees angle to the wind direction. The nets collect the water drops and once heavy enough gravitation will make them flow down to a collection tank. most commonly the traps are one square meter in the area but it’s not limited to that.
If you’re considering harvesting water on your own consider getting old fishing nets for free and have some added sustainable value to your system. Another thing to consider for the DIY water collecting system is that bigger nets will need better anchoring to stand the force the wind will apply to them. If you are not limited by the area consider splitting your net into a few harvesting stands rather than a huge one.
The interesting concept of collecting water from fog isn’t new but surely worth discussing. Something about the simplicity of it is just sweeping. The idea is that using a simple technology with low costs to solve or at least ease some of the water scarcity problems is nothing less than amazing. The benefits of water harvesting in general and from fog specifically are countless from preventing climate immigration and restoring small water cycles as well to ensuring the stability of food supply even in remote areas. That technique alongside rainwater harvesting and desalination all together gives us hope for a more sustainable future in which we stop the degradation of the plant and start to recover our environment from past mistakes and years of mistreatment.