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30 March 2018

Industrial Design Faculty and Students Lead Effort to Construct Prototype for Fog Harp Project

Prof. Brook Kennedy, along with former Industrial Design student Josh Tulkoff (BS Ind. Design, 2017) and Mechanical Engineering student Mark Anderson (BS Mech. Engineering, 2016), have constructed prototypes for testing Fog Harp, a device intended to significantly increase the collection capacity of fog nets, a passive, durable, and effective method of collecting potable water in areas of severe water scarcity. At present, fog harvesters have been used productively around the globe, in arid locations ranging from Chile, Morocco, South Africa, Eritrea, the Canary Islands, Oman, and Nepal.

The interdisciplinary research team for the Fog Harp project was driven by Kennedy, Dr. Jonathan Boreyko and doctoral student Weiwei Shi from the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics in the College of Engineering. The team's research, demonstrating how a vertical array of parallel wires may increase efficiency over other types of fog harvesters threefold, has been published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces and presented at the American Physical Society Conference in November. The invention has also received provisional patent protection. The project is partially funded by the Virginia Tech Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT). Kennedy, Boreyko and Shi are in the process of developing a full scale model for testing in situ both locally and internationally. Fog Harp has been covered by the Boston Globe, CNN, CBS News and the South African Times.

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An illustration of a proposed 1 meter squared test fog collector, forecast to use a vertical wire array fabricated on a wire loom. The team plans to test the device locally in the New River Valley at Kentland Farm followed by testing potentially in Ecuador or another water scarce location where fog harvesting is used.

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VT IDS Student Jonathan Tulkoff helps wire the initial basic full scale prototype after lab tests demonstrated promising results.

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Schematic illustration of the Fog Harp 1-meter squared prototype showing wire tightening option and gutter.

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