Incredible yet true. The idea did not come spontaneously from some ‘blue sky’ thinking, but was first seen in nature.
Doing this might seem a clever thing to do (I could take an empty bottle out with me on a long run and be able to drink as the bottle filled itself) but if successful it will change politics in many water poor areas. Only yesterday I was listening to a radio report about how extreme Muslim groups in one country have been getting control of the wells. Controlling the source of water is a means of making money, and gives power over peoples lives.
How is this possible? The Namib Desert Beetle draws 12 percent of its weight in water from the air. Although the desert gets only half an inch of rainfall per year it can survive using this amazing ability. It pulls off this trick by climbing to the top of a sand dune every morning. It sits facing away from the wind so water condenses on hydrophilic areas of its back, which then flows to a storage area in the beetle.
To find our exactly how this beetle manages it look here at TNW where I found this incredible story, including the image credit: Vera Reis
NBD Nano co-founder Deckard Sorensen was inspired by the beetle to create a self-filling water bottle, which he hopes to bring to the market by 2014. He layered a surface with hydrophilic and hydrophobic coatings, used a fan to pass air over the surface, and eventually managed to get water to condense. This eventually led to the design of a self-filling water bottle.
Hydrophilic and hydrophobic coatings are what are used to create breathable waterproof clothing. It works by getting every molecule to shift water in one direction as it is both attracted by the hydrophilic molecules and repelled by the hydrophobic molecules.
Amazing that anyone would have thought of doing this with a bottle though.
Another thought: How did the beetle think it up, or which was the first beetle that pulled it off? Once successful, how did it pass on the skill and knowledge? Parents have enough trouble trying to pass on wisdom and knowledge to their children, and that did does involve drawing water from the air!