Students tackle water scarcity with home-made bottle cap

The Dewpal can collect water from the air 	© Ghent University (large view)

The Dewpal can collect water from the air © Ghent University

(18-10-2016) For an international engineering competition, bioscience engineering students have developed a structure that collects water from the air to tackle global water scarcity. The structure is a combination of 3D-printing and biotechnology.

Worldwide, more than 4 billion people suffer from water scarcity at least one month per year. That's what these students wanted to put right by developing an affordable smart tool called Dewpal, which is able to passively, without the need for energy input, collect water from the air by simple condensation.

Desert beetle

Their design is inspired by the desert beetle, which is able to collect water by condensation on its shield to survive in the Namib desert. The students modelled its shield in 3D and printed it.

The tool looks like a dome-shaped bottle cap and can be screwed on top of a bottle in order to collect water easily.

Home-made material

The material out of which the Dewpal is printed, is made by the students and is a masterly example of biotechnology. It contains a protein that is already present in nature: it forms ice crystals and helps to generate clouds out of condensed water.

By attaching the protein to the tool, the students aim to increase the condensation of water onto the collector.

Engineering competition in Boston, US

On 27 October, the students take their design to the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition (iGEM) in Boston (MA), which comprises various international teams working on projects involving synthetic biology.

Bram Danneels is one of the students taking part in the project.

"The Dewpal project originated as an idea to take part in this competition, and in a few weeks, we'll see if all the hard work of students, advisers, and instructors will have paid off. After that, I guess we'll see. Who knows, in a couple of years, people may be using self-collected water from Dewpal all over the world!"


The team is still looking for financial support. If you want to help, you can contribute to the project's crowdfunding page.

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