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UAE Looks to Fog Harvesting as Water Source

united arab emirates, ABU DHABI

UAE-based Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has teamed up with the National Research Foundation (NSF) to find and monitor fog that might offer a new freshwater source.

The institute plans to follow the fog and then develop nano-composite material that will harvest water from it.  Due to the location of the United Arab Emirates, with a hot and dry desert to the west and a warm sea to the east, the nation experiences times of large fog accumulations, Masdar researchers said this week.

Masdar Insitute President Fred Moavenzadeh said the institute’s two water-harvesting research projects are expected to improve sustainability in the UAE as well as other fog-dense parts of the world,.

“Our projects remain relevant to Abu Dhabi and the UAE while offering benefits to regions with similar climatic conditions. With the support of the UAE leadership, we have sustained the momentum in achieving innovative solutions. We hope the global community will benefit from the outcomes of the two research projects currently being undertaken at Masdar Institute,” he said.

The UAE is not the only country in the region to consider using fog as a water source. Regional water experts are investigating the possibilities of fog harvesting supplementing more traditional supplies through out the arid region.

“According to [UN Food and Agriculture Organization] estimates, all the Gulf Cooperation Council countries except Oman are using in excess of 100 percent of their available freshwater resources. This situation is not going to improve as the precipitation in the Middle East is to decrease between 5 percent and 25 percent by 2050. Thus, recharge of groundwater and replenishment of surface water will decrease drastically,” said Dr. Nadim Farajalla, associate professor of Environmental Hydrology at American University of Beirut, in his paper titled “Fog harvesting -- A viable source of water in a changing climate in arid regions.”

The paper presents fog and dew harvesting as viable solutions to the region’s water crisis.

“This ancient technology has experienced a revival in the latter parts of the 20th century and early 21st century,” it explains. “Historically, fog harvesting was known in Palestine, in ancient Greece, in the Canary Islands and in India in the 1600s amongst many other places. More recent research has focused on estimating the amounts of water that could be yielded by cloud harvesting and on means of integrating this source of water within existing water supply networks or as supplementary sources of water.”