Patience Is the Best Path to Water?


The Namib Desert in southwestern Africa is said to be one of the hottest, driest places on Earth. It is home to a creature that drinks its water in a very interesting way: it simply faces the wind and keeps its body still. The back of the Namib Desert beetle is covered in bumps that have hydrophilic tips, with hydrophobic valleys between. The beetle faces the early morning wind as it blows in the fog and thrusts its backside high into the air, allowing these bumps to collect the tiny water droplets in the fog. Once a water droplet grows large enough to touch the valley between the bumps, it rolls down through a track created by the other bumps, and into the beetle’s mouth. This is an efficient means of obtaining water.

Functional Classification

Resouce/Energy/Information Collection & Storage:
Water recovery

Environmental Solution Classification

Related Literature

Nature vol.414 1 Nobember 2001 pp.33-34

Technical Application

Products and Services

Type of Business

Proposals of Applied Technology

Currently several regions use plastic nets to extract water from fog. The Namib Desert beetle’s water-collection mechanism is being considered as a replacement since it can be imitated cheaply with modern technology. A computer printer can spray hydrophilic ink on top of acetate sheets in silk screening and injection molding. These methods were introduced by author Parker and Kinetic Inc. who assert that the synthetic material can harvest fog several times more efficiently than any equipment in the past. This can facilitate human survival in harsh environments if used, for example, as a tent covering that can also safely supply water to water-deficient areas. Perhaps water could be freely available everywhere if something similar could be produced on a large-scale. Conversely in humid areas, a nonelectric dehydrator could be developed to remove moisture in the air.

Proposals of Applied Industry

Related Life Style