This week the winner of the 2011 James Dyson Award (named for the high-tech vacuum guy) was announced. Edward Linacre from Australia was chosen from over 500 entries for his Airdrop irrigation system, an original low-tech solution to one of the world’s major problems: drought. After witnessing Australia’s worst drought in a century, Linacre came up with his idea by studying the Namib beetle. This desert-dwelling insect is able to collect condensation from the morning mist on its back, a unique survival skill that allows it to live in one of the world’s most arid areas. Linacre’s solar powered Airdrop mimics this method of collecting water by pumping air into its underground piping system, where it cools to create condensation. The water collected is then distributed directly to the roots of nearby plants. In a dry area in which one prototype was tested, over a liter of water was collected from thin air in a single day.

Architects, designers and engineers have been using biomimicry since Leonardo da Vinci looked at birds and sketched out ideas of possible flying machines. Sir James Dyson said, “Airdrop shows how simple, natural principles like the condensation of water, can be applied to good effect through skilled design and robust engineering.” It is hoped that the £10,000 prize money will help fund the development of an improved industrial prototype of the Airdrop that can be used on a larger scale. Eventually this technology could help bring irrigation water to drought-stricken farmers in rural Australia and other desert regions throughout the world.


0 responses to “When Innovation Meets Irrigation”

  1. 海味批發 says:


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  2. Mesafarmer says:

    The failure here is one of scale.  What a beetle can live on is insignificant to a plant.  Drought means low humidity.  It is doubtful that this will work much of the time as in arid regions the dew point is below the soil temperature.  Even when it does work it will not create enough water to irrigate with

  3. Butch Ragland says:

    This fits my way of bringing forward ideas called;
    Yankee IngenuityThere are 300,000,000+ people in the US that have 300,000,000+ ideas, products, services, devices, etc that cannot pierce the corporate world. 300,000,000 multiplied by some factor that cannot reach the market.We have more expertise in more universities than one can imagine.If we can tap this huge resource we will lead the world in productivity.How? HOW?1 the idea is presented to a university to consider.2 the university concludes an idea is worth pursuing.3 the idea, product, service, device is pursued, vetted, considered by the university.4 the idea is finally accepted to move from someone’s head forward.5 the SBA will finance the projects and hold a stake so the winners can be made up by the losers.6 the owner of the intellectual property will hold the patent.7 the university will hold stock in the company created to produce the idea.8 the group working on the project will hold stock in the project.9 the employees will hold stock.10 the government will protect the project from foreign competition for a period equal to whatever patents are connected with the project.11 the project will be produced in the US with US workers.Every business needs all the knowledge found in universities collectively such as accounting, engineering, chemistry, marketing, etc, etc, etc. We are using the collective knowledge base to develop projects, creating jobs, occupations, etc for those studying the various disciplines that are required for the on going requirements of the project including the workforce.Every person involved with the project has a stake in the success or failure.This is not a complete system or method but this is the skeleton of the idea.Thirty to thirty-five years ago I designed what I call the “BW” or “Butch Wagon” an automobile that would use a diesel engine to produce electricity to power electric motors that would power the “BW”. The “BW” would be produced for 10 years with no change unless the change could be retrofitted on all previous BW’s, new headlight would have to plug into the previous cavity. This would create a huge after market for every better idea.During the 10 year production cycle the new model would be in the design/development department creating a new model that would come off the production line working efficiently. Everyone in the country that chose to do their own repairs could learn how, every part on every “BW” would have a market, every part on every “BW” could be used until it was completely worn out.Everyone laughed at me then and now, the only difference between the Toyota Prius is the “BW” uses a diesel engine instead of a gasoline engine. There was more to my design than I mention now such as brakes that produce power and Toyota sells my idea to the US and I’m not the only one who had approximately this idea. We lose 35 or more years and we still don’t have the “peoples car”, this doesn’t mean there would be a market for upscale automobiles but it would provide economical transportation for workers and very VERY fuel efficient.There was no way then or now for me to move my idea to the market period, PERIOD.


  4. lisa says:

    there are obvious technical improvements to simplify and scale this elegant methodology – bravo!

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