Airdrop Irrigation System
Cal Courneya's patented 1970's design, redux & w/o
"The cost to Australia from climate change is going to be greater
than for any developed country, We are already starting to see it.
It's tearing apart the life-support system that gives us this
world." (Cart, 2009)
The effects of climate change on Australia are accelerating at an
alarming rate. Only last year regions like the Murray Darling were
experiencing the worst drought in a century, which lasted for 12
years and resulted in irreversible damage to ecosystems,
widespread wildlife decline and catastrophic bushfire conditions.
Agriculture in the region suffered record losses. An alarming
figure of one rancher or farmer a week were taking their own life,
as years of drought resulted in failed crops, mounting debt and
slowly decaying towns. Although 2010 has brought much needed
rainfall to the area, other parts of Australia are continuing to
suffer drought. The southwest corner of the country has
experienced its driest year to date. Scientific projections
indicate as temperatures continue to increase so to will the
severity, frequency and duration of droughts worldwide.
Extensive research into droughts revealed an increase in soil
evaporation and trans-evaporation (plant and soil) due to the
increasing temperatures. Airdrop irrigation returns moisture to
the soil by literally feeding the humid air from the atmosphere
back under the ground.
There are various atmospheric water harvesting technologies that
exist today, but most are high-tech and expensive: not ideal for
the rural farmer market. The Airdrop irrigation system is a
low-tech, self sufficient solar powered solution: an innovation
bread of comprehensive investigations into rural agricultural
environments, developed through working with irrigation
manufacturers and local farmers, and refined by extensive
prototyping with successful results. The final prototype of a
scaled down unit produced close to a liter of water out of the air
in a day. Further testing in a variety of conditions is necessary
to confirm the results.
The Airdrop Irrigation project won the 2011 Global James Dyson
Award, received an Honourable Mention in the 2011 Australian
Design Awards - James Dyson Award, and received 3rd prize in the
Cumulus Association 20th Anniversary International Student
Dyson Awards: Edward Linnacre's AirDrop
Interview with 2011 Dyson Award Winner
Airdrop, Which Harvests Moisture
Directly From Desert Air,
Wins James Dyson Award
The James Dyson Award winners for 2011 have been announced, and
the grand prize winner is a piece of clever biomimicry that sits
so perfectly in our wheelhouse that we couldn't resist the urge to
write about it. Edward Linacre of Swinburne University of
Technology in Melbourne has tapped the Namib beetle--a desert
dwelling species that survives in the most arid conditions on
Earth--to create an irrigation system that can pull liquid
moisture straight out of dry desert air.
Airdrop, as the system is known, borrows a trick from the Namib
beetle, which can live in areas that receive just half an inch of
rain per year by harvesting the moisture from the air that
condenses on its back during the early morning hours. A
hydrophilic skin helps to snare water molecules passing on the
breeze, which then accumulate into droplets of consumable liquid
Airdrop mimics this idea, though on a larger scale. The
self-powering device pumps water into a network of underground
pipes, where it cools enough for water to condensate. From there
the moisture is delivered to the roots of nearby plants. Linacre's
math shows that about 11.5 milliliters can be harvested from every
cubic meter of air, and further development could raise that
number even higher.
Such a system could provide regular moisture to plants being grown
in the world's driest regions. And because it is low cost and
self-powered, there's not a lot of investment or maintenance
involved in deploying Airdrop. The $14,000 award from Dyson
(Linacre's university also gets an additional $14,000) should help
speed that along.
This year's runners up included a quickly deployable divider for
medical settings that lets healthcare professionals make the most
of available space and an aide for the blind that uses a special
cane and location-based social networking apps to help the
visually impaired locate their friends. All of this year's entries
can be seen here : http://www.jamesdysonaward.org/
Global Water-from-Air resource map:
Water-from-Air Resource Charts for selected locations:
And for single-family households, there’s also the Water Mill :
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