Drinking water in arid regions – the CloudFisher goes into production

30 new CloudFisher fog-harvesting nets with a surface area of 1,600 m²: In the spring of 2016, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) decided to sponsor the innovative fog-net project of the WaterFoundation in Ebenhausen. The CloudFisher is a new, optimised standard fog collector – a world first – which can revolutionise fog-net technology.

The time has finally arrived. The world's biggest fog-harvesting system using the new CloudFisher technology is to be set up on top of Mount Boutmezguida in the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Southwest Morocco. This would not have been possible without the generous support of the BMZ. The grant application was jointly submitted by the WaterFoundation in Ebenhausen and the Moroccan NGO, Dar Si Hmad. The Munich Re Foundation is a project partner and will provide half of the equity capital ratio required.

The new net technology, called CloudFisher, is more resilient towards sunlight and heavy winds. Months of testing lead to promising results. © Peter Trautwein, Wasserstiftung

Construction to start in January 2017
Before the end of this year, all the construction materials needed for 30 fog collectors – from large steel supports to the smallest rubber expanders – are to be purchased and taken to Morocco. Over 1,600 m² of specially developed net fabric will be produced in Germany and sent to the Anti-Atlas Mountains. From January 2017 on, the Munich industrial designer Peter Trautwein, from the WaterFoundation in Ebenhausen, will be on site with a team from Dar Si Hmad to set up the first 15 CloudFishers. If everything goes to plan, the new fog collectors can start operating in the spring and supply urgently-needed drinking water to the surrounding villages as early as the 2017 fog season. The first-generation fog nets that have already been installed will be removed. Experience has shown that the rather simple collector structures and the materials used hitherto are not well-suited to the strong winds and difficult weather conditions on Mount Boutmezguida.

Net technology 2.0
In view of these problems, as early as 2012, Trautwein had already started to develop a new, functional fog collector with higher water yields. Countless discussions on wind speeds, structural design, material wear and water yields led to success: With the CloudFisher, Trautwein developed a completely new fog collector, and in autumn 2013 set it up for testing on Mount Boutmezguida. Over the two-year test phase, the new type of collector passed all the tests with flying colours. The Munich Re Foundation organised important contacts and supported its technological development financially. The Technical University of Munich assisted the project with the scientific work.

Greater stability and yields
The new CloudFisher has major advantages: all the components, such as posts, steel cables, pegs, screws, net fabric and attachment fittings, along with the concrete foundations, have been calculated to withstand even very strong, gusty winds. In the highlands of Morocco, this stability has proven extremely important. In addition to this, Trautwein tested many different types of net fabric to obtain the highest water yields possible, from simple Raschel net to high-tech materials. All the materials used are of food-grade quality and are extremely resistant to solar radiation and other environmental influences. The fog collector can be installed quickly and easily, needs no energy to operate and is exceptionally low-maintenance.

Peter Trautwein presented the new CloudFisher at the Conference on Fog, Fog Collection and Dew in Wroclow.

A net for the world
In July 2016, the CloudFisher was presented for the first time to international experts on fog and dew. In Wrocław (Poland) at the Conference on Fog, Fog Collection and Dew, which is held every three years, Peter Trautwein explained the design of the new collector, showed the various types of fabric tested and invited discussion by scientists and NGO representatives from all over the world. Christian Schunk from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) presented the scientific data analysis of the measurement results: three-dimensional nets achieved the best results. One surprising result was that some cheap nets performed very well. The TUM had measured the water yields of various net fabrics on the test collector and collected meteorological data on wind strength and humidity for over a year.

The goal of all the project partners in both Germany and Morocco is to make the new net technology internationally known and replicable as quickly as possible. The Conference provided the perfect platform for this. In spring 2018, by which time a further 15 new fog collectors will have been installed, this fog-harvesting system in Morocco should be producing over 20,000 litres of drinking water on a single foggy day. Water that will improve the living conditions of people in the Anti-Atlas Mountains and thus create new prospects for the entire region.

16 August 2016