Irrigation Device Pulls Water From the Air in Driest Conditions


A student at Australia’s Swinburne University last week received the James Dyson Award for a device he says is capable of harvesting moisture from the air for use in irrigation, even in the world’s driest places.

Developed by Edward Linnacre, the Airdrop is a wind- or solar-powered device that sucks air underground through a coiled metal pipe, where the cooler temperature of the surrounding soil slowly causes it to condense.

The device ultimately collects the water in an underground tank before it is pumped back to the roots of nearby crops via a sub-surface drip irrigation system. According to Linnacre, a prototype that he developed in his mother’s backyard was able to produce about one liter of water per day. He hopes the technology can be used for agriculture in even the driest conditions.

“There are water-harvesting technologies out there, but there’s very few low-tech solutions,” he said. “A low-tech solution is perfect for rural farmers, something that they can install, something that they can maintain themselves.”

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Cameron for the insight! I have given sreious thought to joining existing startups in this field. It will give me a better understanding of the market and consumers and also help build a brand before doing my own thing. I do see a lot of advantages to joining an existed, funded startup at first. I’ll have access to expensive market research reports, not worry about building the support infrastructure for the company, and perhaps even get first hand experience in raising money and pitching to VC’s because the startup would already have relationships with VC’s.Ultimately, I decided to go down the entrepreneurship path for many reasons. However, I think whatever I can learn from joining an existing startup, I could learn by starting my own. I’ll just hit more roadblocks and stumble more on my way. Some ways I can mitigate that:1) Networking, going to many entrepreneurial events. I’ve done a lot of research on those events in Toronto. Talking to people in this field, and talking to customers directly, will also give me a good idea of the problems that exist and quickly validate some of my assumptions.2) Researching existing startups and what they are doing. It’s challenging because many operate in stealth mode. However, I’ve done a lot of research on what startups have been funded and what they are working on and I try to extrapolate what direction they are potentially trying to go. Perhaps even talking to people in those startups one on one. 3) Talking to customers directly. It needs to be done right, but there’s no substitute to understanding problems than talking to people directly and testing prototypes on them, getting immediate feedback.4) Getting a mentor. This is one of the first thing I will do when I go back. Have someone experienced, resourceful, and helpful giving my guidance. And I think there are experienced entrepreneurs out there who love to help.5) Getting experienced business partner(s). I know finding the right first co-founder will be critical. I plan to start by getting in touch with my old friends again, and going to entrepreneurial events. A lot of this does come down to building relationships and networking. Going to several here in Seattle I’ve found the startup community is generally very supportive. Obviously it’s a two way thing, you also need to provide value to others. Anyway, I really appreciate the comment, and I have given sreious thought to joining existing startups.