Bug Muscle

Biomimicry Presents a Solution for Drought




With global temperatures continuing to rise and droughts expected to become more severe, Australian Edward Linacre has designed a beetleinspired device called Airdrop that is capable of extracting water from even the driest desert air. His invention recently won the prestigious global James Dyson award. “Biomimicry is a powerful weapon in an engineer’s armory,” comments Dyson.

Linacre, a graduate of Swinburne University of Technology, in Melbourne, wanted to solve the drought problem afflicting parts of his country. The lack of rain has brought dry, damaged soil, dead crops and mounting debt for farmers.

Rather than using complex, energy-intensive methods such as desalination or tapping into underground water sources, Airdrop’s source of water, the air, can be used anywhere in the world. The device delivers water to the roots of crops in dry areas by pushing air through a network of underground pipes and cooling it to the degree at which moisture condenses; then the water is pumped to the roots. Linacre was inspired by the Namib beetle, which survives in areas that receive just half an inch of rain per year by consuming the dew it collects on the hydrophilic skin of its back.


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