Mount Ayliff in Transkei has had a considerable amount of difficulty with water shortages recently, leading a pair of brilliant inventors to discover a way to harvest the prevalent morning fog and convert it into drinkable distilled water, catching it from the thick morning fog.
Alfred Nzo, a member of the local District Municipality, and Jana Olivier, a climatologist from the University of South Africa developed a system for catching the water droplets of fog as they passed through a massive screen and collected them, channeling the moisture into a series of collection chambers so they could be redistributed among over 30 households. The screen project was launched in the Nolangeni mountains in the area of KwaZulu-Natal.
Olivier began her study of fog, first as a potential environmental hazard for machinery and vehicles, but eventually discovered that the fluffy clouds blanketing everything could be used as a water source if only it could be channeled in just the right way. The ingenious development came together over several weeks, and soon after, houses around the area were receiving fresh clean water. It all began with a stainless steel mesh and a gutter, but ended with an incredibly effective fog trapping system. Atop a mountain peak, fog rolls in regularly, and with it a great deal of untapped water.
Each square meter of material produces approximately five liters (almost one and a half gallons) of fresh disease free drinking water per day. High on the mountain the incredible amount of fog is fed through the mesh system and it travels down into a gravity fueled water system, where it flows down to the village below. Altogether, the system has over 700 square meters of mesh, trapping approximately 1,050 gallons of water total per day.
As industries and pollution hit developing nations hard, water supplies are one of the first things to become contaminated, leaving many communities without water. In addition, droughts brought on by unpredictable and changing climates across the world could bring about new massive droughts that would require new ways of collecting fresh water. And at a cost of the equivalent to $40,000, this system has the potential to have far reaching effects on those future needs. Of course the high price is also reflective of the current system. If streamlined, and made more efficient with different materials it could cost far less.
And with a gravity fed system, no electricity or desalinization plants are required to pump fresh flowing water to families that need them. Since it is essentially distilled water, it is H2O in its purest form, free from contaminates aside from those that may be on the machinery or distribution system itself.
And since no one company is creating the water systems, they can be freely built in any community to help the inhabitants gather water. Places with heavy fog, such as mountain areas would be the first to implement the system, though those with heavy industrial output in the form of smoke stacks might find it less helpful as contaminants would get into an open system.