In places where water is scarce on the ground but can be found in the air, extracting water for the air is an important concept. In fact, the Namib beetle does just that. The beetle uses a special system that attracts and collects minute water droplets from the fog that arrives each morning in Namibia and uses it as its sole source of drinking water.

According to Shreerang Chhatre, the chemist who has been working on the new fog harvester, said that he discovered that the coating on the surface is as important as the texture of the coating. Efficiently collecting water from fog is requires a precise combination of hydrophilic, water attracting, surfaces and hydrophobic, water repeling, coatings.

While extracting water from fog isn’t a new concept – FogQuest has been doing it for more than 10 years – scientists have developed more efficient ways to collect the water. The new devices use a coated aluminum mesh to attract water droplets and could actually collect as much as a liter of water from a one square meter mesh.

Ideally, these fog harvesters work best in location where fog is common but ground water sources are not, like mountains and deserts. While the amount of collection doesn’t seem like much, in ideal conditions, fog harvesters could easily collect 10 times the conservative estimates.