Device that harvests water from thin air wins the James Dyson Award

Young Melbourne-based inventor Edward Linacre has won the 2011 James Dyson Award, making it the second year in a row where the prestigious prize has gone to an Aussie. Linacre stole this year’s competition with his Airdrop irrigation concept that collects water from thin air.

airdrop-0The Swinburne University of Technology design graduate was driven to transform an ancient cooling technique into a new sub-surface irrigation system, following the enduring Australian drought that saw high levels of farmer suicide along Australia’s Murray- Darling Basin.

The Airdrop irrigation concept is a low-tech design that uses the simple process of condensation to harvest water from the air. Utilizing a turbine intake system, air is channeled underground through a network of piping that quickly cools the air to soil temperature. This process creates an environment of 100-percent humidity, from which water is then harvested. The collected water is stored in an underground tank, ready to be pumped out via sub-surface drip irrigation hosing. The Airdrop design also features an LCD screen displaying water levels, pressure strength, solar battery life and system health.

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“The one that I made in the backyard at mum’s house was creating about a liter of water a day,” Linacre told Gizmag. Although the backyard trial was successful on a small scale, Linacre did prove that it could be implemented on a large agricultural scale. “The low-tech solution is perfect for rural farmers,” explained Linacre. “[It’s] something they can install, something they can maintain … taking water out of the air and irrigating their crops.”

airdrop-5 airdrop-7 airdrop-8The James Dyson Award is an international competition that attracts designs and inventions from young creators all over the world. As the winner, Linacre will receive GBP10,000 (US$14,000), with a further GBP10,000 (US$14,000) going to Swinburne’s Faculty of Design.

Edward described the Airdrop system to Gizmag at the Australian Design Awards, in a video that we shot earlier this year.


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