Nature has been around for far longer than we have. While we weren’t even in the process of evolving into humans, the world was busy coming up with ways for its inhabitants to survive. And so, there are a plentitude of ingenious ways in which nature ensures the survival of certain species. The severely underused practice of using stuff in nature to expand upon our technology is called biomimicry, and it might just help us pull water from thin air.
The plant, the beetle, and the cactus
Taking inspiration from three completely different species that somehow manage to get their own water, a team of scientists from Harvard managed to create a device that basically pulls water out of thin air. This isn’t the first the Namib beetle was used as an inspiration, but the other two are new to the club.
First of all, the team used the bumps found on the Namib Desert beetle’s back in order to promote the apparition of condensation. Living in the desert with no real sources of water, the beetle developed a series of bumps on its back that promote the formation of condensation, which then uses a series of ridges to make its way to the beetle’s mouth.
Second of all, the team applied the pattern of spines seen on some cacti in order to direct water droplets where they needed them, creating a fast path for them to take. The cacti use the placement of their spines to more easily direct water droplets to their base.
Last but not least, the team used a layer of nano-coating inspired by the bumps and ridges found on the skin of some pitcher plants. These are pretty much used by device in the same way the plants use it – to speed up the movement of the water droplets.
Seeing as the Harvard scientists used a combination of three things found separately in nature in order to create a device that pulls water from thin air, this inspired them to move forward with this type of research – not that it’s in any way a new field.
Biomimicry has been around for decades, but it’s usually used to develop technology using features of a single entity. For example the Namib beetle was used a couple of months back to develop a way to repel frost from forming on surfaces. While useful, it’s nowhere near as impressive as creating water.
Teams are now going to focus on developing more technologies using techniques developed in nature. With nature being the ultimate survival expert, can you think of a better way to come up with new, practical, and most importantly helpful devices?
Image source: Wikimedia