Innovative irrigation system wins Dyson Award

Airdrop irrigation system wins Dyson Award
Australian engineer Edward Linacre has been named this year's James Dyson Award winner.

The 27 year old beat more than 500 competitors to take home the £10,000 award, which aims to encourage the next generation of design engineers to be creative, challenge and invent.

The winning design was a low-cost, self-powered pump and underpipes system that has the potential to deliver water to the roots of crops in the most arid places on earth.

The Airdrop irrigation concept works by harvesting moisture out of the air and turning it into condensation.

A turbine intake drives air underground through a network of piping that rapidly cools the air to the temperature of the soil where it reaches 100% humidity and produces water.

The water is then stored in an underground tank and pumped through to the roots of crops via sub surface drip irrigation hosing.

The Airdrop system also includes an LCD screen that displays tank water levels, pressure strength, solar battery life and system health.

Linacre said he took a biologically inspired approach to create the Airdrop system, taking note of how the Namib beetle - a species that lives in one of the driest deserts on earth - survives by consuming the dew it collects on the hydrophilic skin of its back.

Sir James Dyson said: "Biomimicry is a powerful weapon in an engineer's armoury. Airdrop shows how simple, natural principles like the condensation of water, can be applied to good effect through skilled design and robust engineering.

"Young designers and engineers like Edward will develop the simple, effective technology of the future – they will tackle the world's biggest problems and improve lives in the process."

Linacre's research suggests that 11.5millilitres of water can be harvested from every cubic meter of air in the driest of deserts. He believes the £10,000 cash prize will help fund an improved prototype that will increase the yield further.

Laura Hopperton

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