With the recent drought in California and the threat of more to come, alternative ways to capture fresh water are high in a list of demands. While desalination is not currently an efficient process, the sea does offer another resource - fog. In many coastal areas, it is very common to see huge banks of fog roll out of the sea and onto the land. Even in extremely arid regions, fog is a common occurrence. Plants, insects, and trees have already identified this resource, and have developed various ways of “scrubbing” their own fog.
In general, the concept of fog scrubbing is to provide an immense surface area for water droplets to condense on, and gradually collect the water as it travels down the scrubbing device. Nature has already identified how to do this in a variety of specialized ways, and has helped guide people towards more efficient designs that can fit our needs. For example, researchers at Virginia Tech have developed what is known as a “fog harp.” This hyper-efficient design is composed of extremely fine wire looped around a frame in an extremely high density. We are looking into this design, in no means to replace existing ways to obtain freshwater, but rather to supplement existing supplies to people living in a highly specialized area.
Our team plans on adapting the fog harp into an early prototype to gauge the effectiveness of the harp depending on certain geographic locations and times of the year. We would like to specifically compare the scrubbing efficiency between the top of the hills north of campus and the town of San Luis Obispo. The data that we would gather would help us obtain a better understanding of our local environment, and potentially a more lucrative geographic location. Eventually, we hope to design a scrubbing device that could lower its footprint, as the large surface area it requires can affect its viability as a consumer device.
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