Sol Wave is one of two machines in the world – and it is here in SB – run by Steve Nipper
And if you look at some of the organisms that have evolved to live in deserts, there are some amazing examples of adaptations to water scarcity. This is the Namibian fog-basking beetle,and it’s evolved a way of harvesting its own fresh water in a desert. The way it does this is it comes out at night, crawls to the top of a sand dune, and because it’s got a matte black shell, is able to radiate heat out to the night sky and become slightly cooler than its surroundings. So when the moist breeze blows in off the sea, you get these droplets of water forming on the beetle’s shell. Just before sunrise, he tips his shell up, the water runs down into his mouth, has a good drink, goes off and hides for the rest of the day. And the ingenuity, if you could call it that, goes even further. Because if you look closely at the beetle’s shell,there are lots of little bumps on that shell. And those bumps are hydrophilic; they attract water. Between them there’s a waxy finish which repels water. And the effect of this is that as the droplets start to form on the bumps, they stay in tight, spherical beads, which means they’re much more mobile than they would be if it was just a film of water over the whole beetle’s shell. So even when there’s only a small amount of moisture in the air, it’s able to harvest that very effectively and channel it down to its mouth. So amazing example of an adaptation to a very resource-constrained environment — and in that sense, very relevant to the kind of challenges we’re going to be facing over the next few years, next few decades.
8:51We’re working with the guy who invented the Seawater Greenhouse. This is a greenhouse designed for arid coastal regions, and the way it works is that you have this whole wall of evaporator grills, and you trickle seawater over that so that wind blows through, it picks up a lot of moisture and is cooled in the process. So inside it’s cool and humid, which means the plants need less water to grow. And then at the back of the greenhouse, it condenses a lot of that humidity as freshwater in a process that is effectively identical to the beetle. And what they found with the first Seawater Greenhouse that was built was it was producing slightly more freshwater than it needed for the plants inside. So they just started spreading this on the land around, and the combination of that and the elevated humidity had quite a dramatic effect on the local area. This photograph was taken on completion day, and just one year later, it looked like that. So it was like a green inkblot spreading out from the building turning barren land back into biologically productive land — and in that sense, going beyond sustainable design to achieve restorative design.
The design in place, and the result four years later, is quite remarkable.
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Some tips from Geoff include the use of succulent ground covers. They moderate the soil and also capture nutrient from sand being blown past by the hot desert wind. It’s hard to believe that this farm is built on shifting desert sands and that’s why over-storey date palms were introduced to limit the effects of wind, but also to shade the emerging canopy below, allowing them to grow in filtered sunlight.
Swale lines are flooded and the design uses trellis systems to create pools of shaded areas.
Geoff explains that when donkeys die in the desert don’t immediately rot down due to lack of moisture. The decomposition process can take years in the desert. It’s these tiny particles of needed nutrient that are captured by succulent ground covers that he designed into the system that aided in creating nutrient soil deposits under their spreading carpet-like thick mulch.
There are more strategies revealed in the full length video at GeoffLawton.com.
“Several companies tried to extract water from the air,” says Kohavi. “It looks simple, because air conditioning is extracting water from air. But the issue is to do it very efficiently, to produce as much water as you can per kilowatt of power consumed.”
He adds: “When you’re very, very efficient, it brings us to the point that it is a real solution. Water from air became actually a solution for drinking water.”
The system produces 250-800 liters (65-210 gallons) of potable water a day depending on temperature and humidity conditions and Kohavi says it uses two cents’ worth of electricity to produce a liter of water.
Developed primarily for the Israel Defense Forces(IDF), Water-Gen says it has already sold units to militaries in seven countries, but Kohavi is keen to stress that the general population can also benefit from the technology.
For example in India, [drinking] water for homes is not available and will also be rare in the future. The Atmospheric Water-Generation Unit can be built as a residential unit.
Lima is also part of what’s called a coastal desert: It lies at the northern edge of the Atacama, the driest desert in the world, meaning the city sees perhaps half an inch of precipitation annually (Lima is the second largest desert city in the world after Cairo). Lima thus depends on drainage from the Andes as well as runoff from glacier melt — both sources on the decline because of climate change.
Enter the University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC), which was looking for something splashy to kick off its application period for 2013 enrollment. It turned to ad agency Mayo DraftFCB, which struck on the idea of a billboard that would convert Lima’s H2O-saturated air into potable water. And then they actually built one.
It’s not entirely self-sufficient, requiring electricity (it’s not clear how much) to power the five devices that comprise the billboard’s inverse osmosis filtration system, each device responsible for generating up to 20 liters. The water is then transported through small ducts to a central holding tank at the billboard’s base, where you’ll find — what else? — a water faucet. According to Mayo DraftFCB, the billboard has already produced 9,450 liters of water (about 2,500 gallons) in just three months,