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This revolutionary solar-powered 'fog net' could solve a major pollution problem — here's how it works

"It can be used in areas with atmospheric pollution, such as densely populated urban centers."

Solar-powered ‘fog net’ could solve a major pollution problem

Photo Credit: iStock

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, aka ETH Zurich, have developed new fog nets that can purify water from fog, removing hazardous pollutants in the process.

According to New Atlas, scientists in Switzerland have invented a new model of fog net that has proven able to remove pollutants like diesel and BPA from fog water. Traditional fog nets are used to capture water from the atmosphere in regions with lots of fog but little rain, as the water droplets are too small to fall from clouds but still collect on surfaces. 

However, previous iterations of fog nets tended to capture atmospheric pollution alongside the fog water, rendering the contents unsafe to consume or use in cooking. This new system from ETH Zurich solves this problem.

The researchers' new-and-improved fog net is composed of metal wire that is coated with titanium dioxide and polymers, which speeds up drop formation. When the titanium oxide is exposed to the UV in sunlight, it breaks down organic compounds as a catalyst.

The researchers tested their new fog net using artificial fog. They found that their prototype could collect 8% of the fog's water and filter out 94% of the pollutants they intentionally added.

Additionally, the titanium oxide was activated for a full 24 hours with just 30 minutes of exposure to the sun, which means the system could be used in areas without significant sunlight. The positive results of the tests indicate that the new fog net could be applied in regions with power plants by capturing water from steam emanating from cooling towers.

"Our system not only harvests fog but also treats the harvested water, meaning it can be used in areas with atmospheric pollution, such as densely populated urban centers," said Ritwick Ghosh, the lead author of the study.

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