FogFinder turns foggy air into a reliable water source

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Scientists in Chile are turning foggy air into a reliable water source for nearby residents using a new sensor connected to  Arduino Mega and XBee module. The project is called FogFinder and was developed by Richard LeBoeuf in collaboration with Juan Pablo Vargas and Jorge Gómez at the Universidad de los Andes. It’s a system to generate new renewable source of water for communities and reforestation through use of a probe and wireless communications technology to develop a liquid water flux map for fog harvesting.

Fog collectors are common in arid climates in Chile where rain runs scarce and are typically installed on hillsides and remote areas where fog is abundant. The innovative part of the project lies in determining where to install these collectors, how to orient them, and understanding how efficient they are at collecting water from the air. This can be done with a new type of sensor called the “Liquid Water Flux Probe” to measure the availability of water at current and potential fog collector sites. The sensor measures the liquid water content and speed of the fog and can be used to understand the optimal location and orientation for each of the collectors.

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Matt Ahart  of Digi, the company producing Xbee modules , told us:

“The primary function of the Arduino Mega is to simplify data collection and processing. The development team also made use of software libraries that simplified the use of sensors and API mode configuration for the XBee radios.
Another important reason for using Arduino, is that the Fog Finder project was created by students with only a few months to complete the design and creation of the device. A great thing about Arduino is that the learning curve is very fast and students can quickly start making contributions instead of spending weeks or months trying to understand the software and hardware.”

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The FogFinder project has received support from the Universidad de los Andes through its Fondo de Ayuda de Investigación, Andes Iron – Dominga, and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. In 2014 it was finalist in the Wireless Innovation Project sponsored by the Vodafone Americas Foundation.

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