The new collector's efficiency will be tested in Morocco.
Newly designed fog collectors use different types of material.

Fog net technology 2.0 – New collector brings progress

The Munich Re Foundation has supported the harvesting of drinking water from fog collectors for over six years now. Following an initial project in Eritrea, we are currently promoting the construction of fog nets in the Moroccan Anti-Atlas mountain range and are in the process of launching a new project in Tanzania. We have gathered valuable experience, although some things did not work as planned. The next step for us is advancing the development of fog net technology.

What happens if large fog collectors are unable to withstand the strong winds in the mountains? Or if the supporting structures buckle and the nets tear or bulge so strongly in the wind that the water harvested can no longer flow into the troughs? The fog collectors that were originally developed by the Canadian organisation FogQuest and set up in a number of countries have rendered valuable service in recent decades. In regions where wind speeds can attain up to 120 km/h, however, the 40 m² nets ultimately proved too large and occasionally unstable. The local construction teams therefore made the nets smaller, as in the case of our fog collection project in Morocco.

New dynamic fog collector
Since spring 2012, the Munich industrial designer Peter Trautwein has been working on a new, dynamic fog collector in collaboration with the Water Foundation Ebenhausen. To reduce wind-pressure load, he decreased the size of the nets to only 7.4 m² and revised the structural calculations. Thanks to modern supports such as rubber expanders and flexible PVC profiles, the nets can be suspended elastically. All these materials are resistant to UV radiation and weather, thus ensuring that the constructions are not eroded by the sun or wind.

In spring 2013, Trautwein set up his new original-size fog collector in a big shed near Munich. From October 2013, the new collector will be exposed to real weather conditions on the outdoor premises of the University of the German Federal Armed Forces in Munich Neubiberg, where its functionality and weather-resistance will be put to the test. The development costs of the trial collector were borne by the Munich Re Foundation.

Moroccan test site
One of the next steps will be to test the new collector's efficiency and stability in a foggy region. Our partner organisation Dar Si-Hmad, Morocco, has agreed to add a large test site to the project area on Mount Boutmezguida. This is to serve as a new "highland laboratory" for fog net technology. In November 2013, Peter Trautwein intends to set up his newly designed fog collectors with the support of the Water Foundation. The plan is to suspend nets made from six different types of material next to each other and to test these. In addition, the volume of water thus harvested will be compared with that of conventional fog nets. All parties involved are looking forward with great anticipation to the first results of the 2013/2014 winter fog season.

Fog net technology 2.0
If the new fog net technology develops successfully, the project area in Morocco will be expanded into an international pilot project for harvesting drinking water and could serve as a global precedent – certainly an important goal worth pursuing!


MM, 24 September 2013 

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> Dar Si-Hmad