New Fast Company: World Water Day
My latest Fast Company piece went up last night, in commemoration of World Water Day 2010. This was the perfect opportunity to talk a bit about my time at the LAUNCH inaugural event, which focused on -- surprise -- water. In the essay, I talk a bit about three of the ten innovative ideas we got a chance to explore at the LAUNCH meeting. Here's one:
Dutyion Root Hydration System, a mouthful of a name for something that's actually pretty remarkable. The system takes a specialized form of hydrophilic plastic and converts it into heavy-duty tubes suitable for below-ground irrigation. If you run saltwater (or similarly brackish/unusable water) through the tubes, the plastic wicks the water out as vapor, permeating it into the soil, which can then support many kinds of food crops and trees. That is, this plastic would let you irrigate orchards and farmland with sea water.
There are still plenty of questions, most critically about how long the plastic lasts and how to bring down production cost (it's not cheap, at present), but the utility of something like would be enormous. Test uses in the Middle East have already shown quite a bit of promise; one use that could be of particular value would be to maintain trees to fight desertification.
This was actually the first item we talked about at LAUNCH, and it really set the tone for the meeting. A technology in the early stages of development, with some good test results already available, and with incredible potential for transforming the landscape. The pilot projects really underscore just how powerful this kind of tech might be: rows of fruit trees growing in the sands of Abu Dhabi, watered only by seawater pumped from the Gulf through the dutyion tubes. As I say at the end of the Fast Company post:
- On this World Water Day, 2010, it's hard not to feel a bit of hope for the future.