The Namib desert gets less than a half an inch of rain per year, yet the stenocara beetle manages to survive in these punishing conditions. The beetle's secret lies in an array of microscopic bumps and valleys on its shell. The bumps are hydrophilic (water-attracting) and the valleys are hydrophobic (water-repelling). During foggy days, tiny water droplets accumulate on the hydrophilic bumps. Once a droplet is big enough, it tumbles off the bump down into a hydrophobic trough, which funnels the water to the beetle's mouth. Now, a company called NBD Nano is hoping to mimic stenocara's shell to create the world's first self-filling water bottles.

NBD Nano co-founder Deckard Sorenson says that "We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution.” According to him, this technology could harvest three liters per square meter per hour in an area with 75% humidity. Unfortunately, the self-filling water bottle is still years from being realized, if ever. For those of you who are impatient for a solution to the world's water crisis, GrabCAD is holding a contest to design devices that harvest water from the air.

Story via BoingBoing. Image via GrabCAD.

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  • It is striking how much this project resembles the NANO Supermarket winner 2012 by John Vlaming: A self filling water bottle inspired by the Thorny Devil lizard. Only our jury expected the product to be feasible around 2020. While this company wants to launch 2014. From the jury rapport: "The concept Thorny Devil Skin entails a canteen that refills itself by abstracting water from dew, rain and wet sand. The water abstracting and filtering skin is made possible by nanotechnology. The design is mainly inspired by nature, it uses biomimicry technology. The concept is inspired by the “Thorny devil”, a lizard that collects water with little channels on his skin. The form and size of the scales and channels of the skin provide a very good water collecting and transporting system. The filters in the skin of the bottle is made with the use of aquaporin, the water channels in organic cells. These two technologies combined create a water collecting and filtering skin. The Jury hailed biomimicry as basis for the Thorny Devil Skin, which is also product that can be of great use especially in the warm dry regions of the earth. Although it is doubtful if the canteen can produce a lot of water, technologically the jury considers the scientific concept possible and maybe realizable within 20 years."

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