Water scarcity doesn’t just affect those in arid climates—areas in humid tropics also lack access to freshwater sources. National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) students in Taiwan tackle these water issues with AQUAIR, a portable fog-harvesting device that pulls potable water out of the air. Designed for use in remote mountainous areas in tropical latitudes, AQUAIR can be easily assembled with the addition of locally sourced materials with future aims of open source production.
Though AQUAIR’s water collection system has widespread uses, NCKU design students Wei-Yee Ong, Hsin-Ju Lin, Shih-Min Chang, and Marco Villela created the workable prototype in response to Honduras’ water crisis. As the second poorest nation in Central America, Honduras is home to a large number of subsistence farmers and rural communities that lack access to clean water due to drought and groundwater contamination—issues also felt in rural mountainous Taiwan.
Like most fog harvesting systems, AQUAIR collects water with a mesh waterproof fabric stretched across a bamboo structure to maximize airflow. The key to AQUAIR’s design is the fan and small centrifuge that use gravity—a 30-kilogram weight is attached to the structure—to draw collected water vapor down a tube and into a bucket. The collapsible structure can be assembled by hand, while locally sourced rocks and bamboo can be used for the weight and tensile structure, respectively.
The design students plan to take their working prototype to Honduras in February where they’ll work together with the local community. “We also want the project to be easy to build and assemble, so the local people can easily access the parts or create their own versions of AQUAIR,” said Marco Villela to Inhabitat. “We do not want the parts to be 3D printed, because the material is not strong enough, so the best and cheapest option would be to create a mold and use plastic or ABS injection techniques. In regards to the gears, we want to get more sturdy and durable gears, so while the cheaper parts of the system can be replaced, the gear box can last for as long as possible. The project is designed to be easy to assemble and disassemble, also if any part is defective, it is easy and cheap to replace.” AQUAIR recently received a Design Mark for innovation in environmental and humanitarian issues as part of the 2017 Golden Pin Concept Design Award.