Project Everest

Proposed PROJECT

Harvesting Water from Recycled Plastic?

by
Zoe Paisley
Zoe Paisley | Aug 13, 2017 | in Knowledge Base

When I think of recycling and sustainable practices, I think of Closed Loop Systems. This is probably because I'm studying agriculture and entomology (the study of insects), whereby one aspect of this is utilising waste products in alternate ways e.g. composting crop waste to be used as a source of nutrients for successive crops. Therefore, these Closed Loop Systems encompass waste management. 

Waste management, as we probably all know, is a massive issue globally, including in Australia and developing countries. Now this has been identified by Project Everest, evident in our Everest Recycling Solutions (ERS) project.
ERS has made some huge leaps forward in both Cambodia and Timor, which is amazing! However, the recycled products from the ERS is yet undecided, as far as I am aware. This is where I propose a solution that could address two issues present in Timor Leste.

Previously, Project Everest worked on an Atmospheric water generator in Timor due to the high humidity and lack of access to fresh water. This venture would have had a huge impact on the rural communities in Timor, yet due to various reasons, this project was discontinued (at least until present).
So I propose we link ERS with a solution to Timor's abundance in atmospheric water and the lack of access to this water.

This is where insects come into play (it's the little things in life!).
The Namib Darkling Beetles (Tenebrionidae), from Southern Africa, naturally harvests water droplets from fog (see the attached image). Due to this natural solution, water is harvested in an arid environment, this has inspired researchers to think of new ways to collect water.

Of these is a woven mesh structure. The most rudimentary of these includes a net made of polyolefins (e.g. polyethylene plastics), which is one of the most abundant forms of plastic worldwide.
Recent research has shown that by adjusting the filament and hole size as well as the chemical composition you can increase the amount of water harvested from fog by 8% or more! (See http://news.mit.edu/2013/how-to-get-fresh-wat...-thin-air-0830).
If we could investigate how to recycle the plastic from ERS in Timor into these mesh structures, we could hopefully create a cheap way of harvesting water hence creating another socially beneficial product.

Obviously, a lot of research is required regarding costs, the process of making the nets from the recycled plastic and what the 'chemical coating' on the mesh is (presumably a hydrophilic substance to attract the water droplets), yet this could be an interesting product nonetheless. Furthermore, we need to assess if Timor is even a suitable environment for fog harvesting (is there even enough fog in Timor? I don't know!)
As you may be able to tell, I haven't worked on ERS or in Timor, so I'm super keen to hear from anyone who has more experience in these areas! Maybe you've already come across this solution and disregarded it?
Please let me know!

Tagged users

Wade Tink Jul 2, 2018

Status label added: Proposed PROJECT

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