Revolutionary Solar-Powered Fog Net Helps to Clean Pollution

Photo by Jerry Zhang on Unsplash

Pollution and climate change are threatening the world’s most important resource, drinking water. It is said that over half of the world’s population could be facing water scarcity by 2025. 

Fog nets have long been a literal lifesaver in arid regions with regular fog as they are used to gather water in useful quantities and funnel it into pipes and tanks. In the mountainous Ait Baâmrane region of southwest Morocco, fog harvesting provides fresh drinking water for thousands of people and their livestock.

Using Solar-Power Fog Nets to Solve Pollution Problem

However, in many places, there is concern that the seasonal fog could stop turning up or that air pollution from nearby cities could contaminate the precious resource as climate and ocean currents shift. The collected water is frequently tainted by airborne pollutants, making it unsafe for both cooking and drinking purposes.

Scientists at ETH Zurich in Switzerland have now developed a new type of fog net that can purify the water it captures by using sunlight to break down hazardous molecules. 

The new-and-improved fog net is composed of metal wire that is coated with titanium dioxide and polymers, which speeds up drop formation. When titanium oxide is exposed to the UV in sunlight, it breaks down organic compounds as a catalyst.

These fog nets were tested in the lab and a pilot plant where the researchers used artificial fog that had pollutants such as diesel and BPA added to it. It is reported that the nets were able to collect about 8% of the water from the fog while removing some 94% of those pollutants. In addition, sunlight exposure for 30 minutes activated the titanium oxide, allowing it to work for 24 hours even in areas that receive very little sunlight.

Cooling Towers

In addition to harvesting drinking water from fog, the positive results of the tests also indicate that the new fog net could be applied in regions with power plants to recover water used from steam emanating from cooling towers.

Making greater use of fog and steam as a hitherto underutilized source of water can play a role in alleviating the scarcity of this vital resource.

Ashton Henning

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