African beetle inspires water bottle that uses air to naturally refill itself
A US-based company has turned to nature to help bring water to arid areas by drawing moisture from the air, it has been claimed.
NBD Nano aims to mimic - as biomimicry - the way Namib Desert beetles survive in an African desert to create a self-filling water bottle capable of storing up to three litres every hour.
The insect harvests moisture from the air by first getting it to condense on its back and then storing the water.
NBD Nano, which consists of four recent university graduates and was formed in May, looked at the Namib Desert beetle that lives in a region that gets about half an inch of rainfall per year.
Using a similar approach, the firm wants to cover the surface of a bottle with hydrophilic (water-attracting) and hydrophobic (water-repellent) materials.
The work is still in its early stages but is the latest example of researchers looking at nature to find inspiration for sustainable technology.
"It was important to apply [biomimicry] to our design and we have developed a proof of concept and [are] currently creating our first fully-functional prototype," the BBC quoted Miguel Galvez, a co-founder, as saying.
"We think our initial prototype will collect anywhere from half a litre of water to three litres per hour, depending on local environments," Galvez said.
The founders want to use a fan to get the surrounding air to pass over the surface of the bottle. The air would then condense and get stored inside the device.
"Dry places like the Atacama Desert or Gobi Desert don't have access to a lot of sources of water," Galvez said.
"So if we're creating several litres per day in a cost-effective manner, you can get this to a community of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and other dry regions of the world. And if you can do it cheaply enough, then you can really create an impact on the local environment," he added.