Roses may traditionally symbolize love and romance, but who knew that the shape of this iconic flower would inspire a revolutionary new way of collecting and purifying water?
The idea blossomed at the University of Texas in Austin, where a rose has inspired researchers to develop a new device that could provide clean drinking water for people around the world, dramatically improving current methods. The novel approach uses energy harvested from the sun to separate salt and other impurities from water through evaporation.
The scientists involved in the study outlined how an origami rose provided the inspiration for developing the gadget – a new kind of solar-steaming system made from layered, black paper sheets shaped into petals. Attached to a stem-like tube that collects untreated water from any water sources, the 3D rose shape makes it easier for the structure to collect and retain more liquid.
Current solar-steaming technologies are usually expensive, bulky, and produce limited results. The team’s method, on the other hand, uses inexpensive materials that are portable and lightweight so that each flower-like structure costs less than 2 cents and can produce more than half a gallon of water per hour per square meter.