Harvesting water from fog – this is what eight students of the TU München focus on. Not in Germany, where water comes from the tap, but in southern Morocco. In this region of Africa, water supplies are often scarce. Belinda Fleischmann, the group's spokesperson, tells us how they are planning to distribute the water and what is important to them in doing so.
Belinda, who does the group consist of – and what do you focus on?
We are eight TUM-students and four students from our partner university in Agadir in Morocco. We are involved in "Enactus", a university-related non-governmental organization in which students use the skills they acquired at the university for projects in order to make the world a better place by small improvements. Each of the students of our team is enrolled in a different course of studies – and we want to develop fog catchers to harvest water from fog in southern Morocco.
How can one imagine these fog catchers?
Actually, the basic principle is quite simple: A fog catcher consists of a metal frame with a nylon mesh stretched across it. This frame is placed at a convenient place, anywhere where there is lot of fog. When the fog condenses on the mesh, the water drips into containers underneath the frame. This method is able to gain up to 12 liters of clean water per day.
How did you come across the idea?
We did not have to reinvent the wheel. The idea to harvest water from fog has been around for quite a while. There are already large-scale projects, so-called fog harvesting plants, but our goal is to make the local people more independent. Thus, we developed a portable solution for private households to harvest fog water independently: mobile fog catchers.
What's new about your concept?
What's new about our concept is that our fog catchers are small and portable, suitable for private households. The fog moves – and our fog catcher provides the possibility to harvest water every day, provided that you follow the fog. Thus, it's a matter of individual responsibility.
What is your goal?
In many parts of Morocco, there are no proper water supplies. There are private businesses that deliver water to remote villages and charge high prices – far too expensive for most of the people. Also, there's just not enough water. Currently, every household uses about 7 liters per day. We aren't trying to replace the supply, but to provide additional supplies with our fog catchers.
So you want the people to take over responsibility responsible.
Exactly – and all of the responsibility. The fog catchers are to be built by Moroccan craftsmen, using local materials. The entire value chain is supposed to remain in the country. There are about 380 villages and settlements for which the catchers could be suitable.
How far has your project evolved – and what's next?
Currently, we are working on our fourth prototype. We can rely on technical assistance by Siemens, and Markus Heinsdorff helps us with the development. The beginning of the test phase, in which we want to equip ten households with a fog catcher, is scheduled for August and September. By summer 2016, we want to include one hundred households, to set up at least one workshop and to create two jobs. The perfect scenario would be if we could just leave the country after that because everything works out fine by itself.
(Interview: Sabrina Czechofsky)
Belinda Fleischmann (22), who is in her 2nd Master’s semester of TUM-BWL, is the Head of Marketing for the Enactus fog catchers. She and her fellow colleagues invest about 20 hours a week into the project.
Fog Catcher Enactus Munich
Mobile Fog Catcher on YouTube
Donation campaign Fog Catcher