The dew bank bottle and namib beetle – In the news
Zoe L, Mentone Girls' Grammar School
Water is essential to all life but for some it can be hard to access. In hot climates water is a scarce resource and sometimes can be contaminated. An estimated 3,575,000 people die each year because of diseases related to water (The World Counts, 2019) and with a reliable water source these deaths could be prevented. Even today 1 in 9 people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water (water.org, 201, but water can’t simply be made out of thin air or can it?
The Namib Beetle as depicted in the adjacent image is found on the south-west coast of Africa in the Namib Desert (Beautiful World, 2018), one of the driest areas in the world. It receives less than 1cm of rainfall annually meaning that organisms living here have to find a regular water source. The Namib Beetle is extremely unique in its strategy of sourcing water, there is an ocean situated west of the desert which the beetle uses to its advantage. When there is ocean fog the beetle faces towards the direction of the breeze and exposes as much surface area as possible by extending its body. Its body surface is covered in small bumps which are hydrophilic at the tips and hydrophobic around the sides. The tips attract water and allow for the water to condensate whilst the sides cause the droplets to move towards the mouth of the insect (Wired, 2012). This characteristic of the beetle allows it to thrive in its environment
The Dew Bank Bottle was designed by Kitae Pak and is based on the Namib beetle’s method of obtaining water. The bottle is made out of stainless steel and when left outside during the night the metal becomes cold. As the nearby air increases in temperature as the new day dawns its moisture condensates onto the dome of the bottle. The water then travels downwards toward small gaps which ensure that only water passes through and into the area where the water is stored. This example of biomimicry would provide an estimated one glass of water each day (Stewart, 2010) which could be life changing for many human beings without clean water access.
The Dew Bank Bottle and the Namib Beetle is by far my favourite example of biomimicry because of the potential that it holds to change the lives of many people living without basic human necessities as well as how extraordinary and unique the ability of the Namib Beetle is in gathering water in such harsh environmental conditions.
Ask Nature. (2017). Water vapor harvesting. Retrieved from https://asknature.org/strategy/water-vapor-harvesting/
Beautiful World. (2018). Namib Desert Climate. Retrieved from https://www.beautifulworld.com/africa/namibia/namib-desert/
Picture Boss. (2019). South African Beetle Fog. Retrieved from https://www.picturesboss.com/pictures/south-african-beetle-fog-90.html
Seth, R. (2010). Beetle Juice Inspired. Retrieved from https://www.yankodesign.com/2010/07/05/beetle-juice-inspired/
Stewart, L. (2010). Beetle-Inspired Bottle Harvests Drinking Water From Thin Air. Retrieved from https://inhabitat.com/beetle-inspired-bottle-harvests-drinking-water-from-thin-air/
The World Counts. (2019). Dirty water diseases. Retrieved from http://www.theworldcounts.com/counters/interesting_water_facts/dirty_water_diseases
Water.org. (2019). The Water Crisis. Retrieved from https://water.org/our-impact/water-crisis/
Wired. (2012). This Self-Filling Water Bottle Mimics a Desert Beetle. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2012/11/namib-beetle-bottle/
The article above is one of the winning entries of GTAC's Biomimicry Blog competition. The competition challenged Victorian students to submit a blog article detailing an example of scientific and mathematical advances that were inspired by nature. Click here for more information.