A solution to the water problem?


Image source: www.biomechanics.bio.uci.edu

A week or so ago, Phillip Adams wrote a piece on The Australian entitled Water from wind which piqued my interest. In brief, an Aussie bloke named Max Whisson has come up with a device that Adams refers to as the ‘Whisson Windmill’. It effectively harvests moisture from air offering a solution to the looming problem of water shortages in Australia (and elsewhere, of course). Then, listening to a Late Night Live podcast while out running tonight I heard from the inventor himself (listen here or right-click to download). A very humble-sounding, unassuming sort of guy, he seemed to talk a lot of sense and — while I’m no scientist — the basis of the technology was pretty easy to understand. I’m now amazed that no-one has thought to commercialise such an idea before. What I like best about it is that it conforms to one of the key principles of natural capitalism; namely, biomimicry. Many of the ecological challenges we face today can be solved by adopting natural solutions; that is, processes and procedures that replicate what happens in the natural world. Whisson’s inspiration is the Stenocara beetle, an insect which lives in the Namib Desert in Africa, that tilts itself forward into the wind early in the morning to capture water droplets on its back. These droplets roll into the beetle’s mouth to provide a morning drink.

According to Whisson, the windmills should hit the market in 4-5 months. Watch this space.