CANBERRA, Australia, Nov. 9, 2011 -- An innovative device that can abstract water out of the air to help irrigate crops in arid conditions has scooped this year's James Dyson Award.
Australian industrial designer Edward Linacre won the prize for his Airdrop irrigation concept, a low cost, self-powered solution to provide water for growing crops. Based on the Namib beetle, which survives in desert conditions by consuming dew collected on its back in the early mornings, the system is designed to harvest "water from the air".
Once collected, the turbine intake drives air underground through a network of piping that rapidly cools the air to the temperature of the soil where it reaches 100% humidity and produces water.
Water is then stored in an underground tank and pumped to plant roots via sub surface drip irrigation hosing. An LCD screen displays tank water levels, pressure strength, solar battery life and system health.
Linacre took inspiration from the well documented Murray Darling drought which is impacting on agricultural production in the region.
The James Dyson Award said: "While there are various atmospheric water harvesting technologies that exist today, most are high-tech and expensive - not ideal for the rural farmer market."
The award is an international student design award running in 18 countries by the James Dyson Foundation. The winner receives £10,000, a further £10,000 for their university department and a James Dyson trophy and Certificate.