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Beetle-mimicking irrigation system wins Dyson award


With drought ravaging farmland across the globe, this is welcome news.

A young Australian engineer has won the 2011 James Dyson Award for developing a low-maintenance, solar-powered, drip-irrigation system. Edward Linacre’s “Airdrop” – developed in his mother’s backyard and inspired by the desert Namib beetle’s unique method of collecting water – works by harvesting moisture out of the air “to irrigate crops by an efficient system that produces large amounts of condensation.”

Condensation is collected, according to the Dyson website, using “a turbine intake (that) drives air underground through a network of piping that rapidly cools the air to the temperature of the soil where it reaches 100 percent humidity and produces water. The water is then stored in an underground tank and pumped through to the roots of crops via sub surface drip irrigation hosing. The Airdrop system also includes an LCD screen that displays tank water levels, pressure strength, solar battery life and system health.”

For more, including a video report, see here.

The irrigation project “developed through working with irrigation manufacturers and local farmers, and refined by extensive prototyping with successful results. … The pipe construction was born through investigations into the principles of air-flow. Other elements that incorporate the resolved concept include the turbine - designed to maximize air intake, to operate freely in high wind and switch to battery power in low wind. The submersible pump that drives water from the underground tank includes a float cut off switch to cut power to the pump when water levels are low.”

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