Biomimetic file 175: atmospheric water harvesting

How decentralization can lead to lesser risks

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Image source: Warka Water 

Highlight: “in Ethiopia, only 44% of the general population can access safe drinking water. As well as the serious hydration problems, a lack of clean water and sanitation leads to the rapid spread of a range of diseases, which are responsible for over 200,000 deaths annually. Warka Water is a project that aims to partly tackle this challenge in rural areas taking inspiration from the water gathering strategies of nature in desert areas…Designed as a tool that can capture water from the air, Warka Water (WW) is a piece of architecture, which is particularly effective when placed in detached mountainous areas, where conventional pipelines and wells are not an option… A vertical and portable structure, WW takes advantage of the water contained in air collecting an estimated 100 litres of clean drinking water every day through rain, fog and dew…”

Insight: Water, one of the simplest of molecules and yet so important to life; People who have lived in sub-Saharan Africa would know its value more than anyone. Indeed, in such arid environments every drop is valuable and wasting it is unthinkable. Yet, in modern societies the resource is wasted like no other. Among other water issues, we tend to forget that the water that we use in cities is closely linked to energy (e.g desalination process).

Rather than relying so much on energy intense processes, perhaps more emphasis should be put on passive ways to harvest fresh water and nature provides multiple sources of inspiration for that. While such practices are likely to be far less efficient than the ones which input energy, the element of scale and low cost production should be of interest.

The business point here is that decentralized large scale/low cost systems could well be a much better development plan than centralized small/high cost models currently in operations. Making use of cities buildings rooftops could be a good starting point?

More information: here

What is Biomimetics: the field of gaining inspiration from nature first to solve some of our most difficult challenges. Instead of coming up with our own solutions to a problematic, the odds are that species or natural systems on the planet already offer an ultimate solution. This simple fact is also another strong case to preserve species at all cost as the intellectual heritage contained within or through the study of species is both irreplaceable and invaluable…

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