An arid desert is probably a great place to enjoy a refreshing cold one, but it’s the last place on Earth you’d expect to find a locally brewed beer. However researchers in Chile are working to collect the desert’s dense early morning fog and turn it into fresh beer for the local community. The amount of water harvested from the fog greatly varies from day to day and season to season, so turning that captured moisture into beer seems like a fine perk for parched residents.
Chile’s Atacama Desert gets a heavy dose of fog each morning from the Pacific coast. It’s such a dense fog, in fact, that it is referred to ominously as “The Darkness.” Researchers didn’t like seeing all that moisture go to waste – the sun evaporates the mist as it rises – so teams have been working on giant ‘fog harvesters’ to recycle the only humid thing in the desert. Fog harvesting isn’t unheard of, and MIT scientists have partnered with Chilean researchers for several years developing fog harvesting methods. Researchers just patented a device that looks like a huge window screen and condenses the fog for collecting.
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Camilo Del Rio, a researcher at the geography institute of Pontificial University in Santiago, believes the team’s fog harvesting techniques could solve the water shortages in many indigenous communities. By collecting their own fog, entire communities could even become self-sufficient for water, even though it hardly ever rains. He says it’s easy to treat the water after collection. “Transforming it into potable water isn’t complicated or expensive,” he told Discovery, and it can be used without treatment for bathing or irrigation.
The amount of water captured by a single fog harvester, which is the size of a standard house window, isn’t much. It ranges from 14 liters per day or more in the winter season to zero in the summertime. With an average of just 7 liters per day annually, researchers are looking into ways to store and distribute water where it is needed most. Fog beer is just one of those ideas. So far, there is just one local brewery in the Coquimbo region using fog water to make what they call a ‘heavenly brew.’
Lead image via Little Visuals