Gizmos & Gadgets: DewBank Harvests Water from Desert Mists

I don’t know how I missed this gadget which one a design award back in 2010. It is called the DewBank and it is biomimetic device that collects and channels water into a bottle even in a desert climate. Simply place the stainless steel device on a flat, windless area in the evening and by morning it will have gathered enough water to fill a glass. It can do this because the stainless steel cools down in the evening air of the desert attracting any moisture which condenses on its surface and then runs down into a collecting bowl.

DewBank mimics the Desert Darkling Beetle, native to the Namib in Southwest Africa, one of the driest places on Earth. The beetle has adapted to the dry conditions by evolving a bumpy waxy coating that is hydrophobic (it repels water). This physical characteristic makes water run off its back and the beetle has evolved a behaviour to harvest the moisture. Like a sailboat turning into the wind, the beetle sticks its abdomen in the early morning Namib air to attract water droplets which then run down to its mouth.


DewBank features a ribbed dome which mimics the beetle’s abdomen and works exactly the same way. With the huge temperature range that occurs in desert climates the DewBank can easily attract small amounts of moisture to condense on its cool surface and then run down the ribbed channels into the covered collection reservoir.

The designer is Kitae Pak, from South Korea. It currently is not available as either a commercial or not-for-profit sponsored product. Here’s one that crowdsourcing could fund in a world where freshwater stress is increasingly seen as a problem.





Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...