On October 11, the Fog Harp team, led by Industrial Design Associate Professor Brook Kennedy and Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Dr. Jonathan Boreyko, was granted a utility patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office, titled “Fog Harvester Having a Vertical Wire Array and Uses Thereof.”

Inspired by fog collecting trees like the mighty Sequoia Sempervirens, the characteristic layered vertical wire array design significantly improves the water yield of this technology. Co-inventors Kennedy and Boreyko, through the collaborations of the BioDesign Research Group and the Nature-Inspired Fluidics Lab, have been steadily scaling the technology for real-world use. 

Fog Harvesting is a promising, passive and ancient technology that has been experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in the early 21st century. Today, more than 4 Billion people suffer from drought and water shortages. Women and children are disproportionately tasked with walking miles per day to collect fresh potable water. Fog harvesting can play a role in a broader water management strategy to provide much needed resources for drinking, hygiene, agriculture, and plant habitat restoration. 

This past summer the team installed 16 prototypes in Monterey Bay, California to test varying versions of the base technology. Undergraduate ID student Xandra Jones and ME graduate students James Kaindu and Kevin Murphy all participated deeply in the effort. Looking ahead, the team is in discussion with water utilities to pilot the technology in San Francisco and the United Arab Emirates, both of which lack sufficiently resilient water systems.

This multi-year research program has been generously sponsored with nearly $500K of funding by Comstock Inc., the VT Proof of Concept Fund and the Institute for Creativity Arts and Technology. Fog Harp was featured on PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff in 2019, as well as by BBC, the Washington Post, the Verge and many others. It was also covered in the award-winning documentary Finite Water by Dianne Wennick in 2019 and was an IDEA and National Collegiate Inventors Competition Finalist. Additional efforts are underway to produce refined harp meshes using custom automated and robotic machinery.

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