An "artificial beak" that could allow people to collect water from fog has been developed by researchers.
Cheng Luo and his doctoral student, Xin Heng turned to shorebirds with long, thin beaks to solve the water scarcity conditions in parched areas like Saudi Arabia, Western U.S.
By opening and closing their beaks, shorebirds drive food-containing liquid drops into their throats. The researchers mimicked this phenomenon by building simple, fog-collecting, rectangular "beaks" out of glass plates connected by a hinge on one side.
When open, the plates provide a large surface area where beads of fog condense. When the plates close, then re-open, the droplets slide toward the hinge and into a collection tube. A single 10-inch by 4-inch prototype "swallowed" about a tablespoon of water in 36 minutes. Over two hours, it harvested 400 to 900 times more water than both natural and other artificial fog-collectors.
The study is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.