Scientists world over have been making efforts to build technologies by mimicking insects and plants that can ‘pull water from thin air’ both figuratively and literally. Such water harvesting techniques use the concept of water-repelling nature or hydrophobic nature of some materials such as the lotus leaf. But this simple method is unsuitable for water harvesting from highly humid environments as the high moisture content can displace the trapped air and cause permanent damage.
The research team from the Chemistry Department and the Centre of Nanotechnology at IIT Guwahati has for the first time used the concept of chemically patterned slippery liquid-infused porous surface (SLIPS) to effectively harvest water from foggy or moist air. The team has taken inspiration from the nature of pitcher-plant which has a surface that makes insects landing on it to fall into its tube-shaped structure in order to digest it. They have produced a patterned hydrophilic SLIPS by spraying a sponge-like porous polymeric material on top of a simple A4 printer sheet. The team believes that the model inspired from pitcher plant is an inexpensive method of water harvesting from humid air. The team claims that their water harvester is highly efficient as their fog collecting rate is high and can be used in underwater hulls of ships and submarines to prevent bio-fouling and also to prevent icing on aircraft windows.The study has been published in the Journal of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
SOURCE: THE HINDU