One winning project and two runners-up have recently been announced at the 2011 edition of the James Dyson Awards, an international student design award running in 18 countries. The first prize went to the entry 'AirDrop Irrigation' from Australia. Two top awards went to the design concepts 'Blindspot' from Singapore and 'KwickScreen' from the UK.
Project Description from the Designer:
The Airdrop irrigation concept is a response to poor agricultural conditions in periods of severe drought. Extensive research into droughts revealed an increase in soil evaporation and trans-evaporation (plant and soil) due to the increasing temperatures. Airdrop Irrigation works to provide a solution to this problem. Moisture is harvested out of the air to irrigate crops by an efficient system that produces large amounts of 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.
The effects of climate change on Australia are accelerating at an alarming rate. Last year the Murray Darling area experienced the worst drought in a century, lasting 12 years and resulting in irreversible damage to ecosystems, widespread wildlife decline and catastrophic bushfire conditions. Agriculture in the region suffered record losses. An alarming figure of 1 rancher/farmer a week was taking their own life, as years of drought resulted in failed crops, mounting debt and decaying towns. Although 2010 brought much needed rainfall to the area, other parts of Australia are continuing to suffer drought. The southwest corner of the country has experienced its driest year to date. Scientific projections indicate as temperatures continue to increase so too will the severity, frequency and duration of droughts worldwide. While there are various atmospheric water harvesting technologies that exist today, most are high-tech and expensive - not ideal for the rural farmer market.
The airdrop irrigation system is a low-tech, self sufficient solar powered solution; an innovation bread of comprehensive investigations into rural agricultural environments, developed through working with irrigation manufacturers and local farmers, and refined by extensive prototyping with successful results. Research reveals a gap in the use of atmospheric water harvesting technologies for irrigation purposes within Australia, and there has been no discovery of any similarities to the condensation producing system of piping present in the Airdrop irrigation design. The pipe construction was born through investigations into the principles of air-flow. Other elements that incorporate the resolved concept include the turbine - designed to maximize air intake, to operate freely in high wind and switch to battery power in low wind. The submersible pump that drives water from the underground tank includes a float cut off switch to cut power to the pump when water levels are low.
These are the two runners-up entries 'Blindspot' and 'KwickScreen':
Find also images of 'Blindspot' and 'KwickScreen' in the image gallery below. All images courtesy of the James Dyson Awards.