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Dew harvesting efficiency of four species of cacti / David, Gethin; Marc, Clement
Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Volume: 10, Issue: 3, Start page: 036005
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Four species of cacti were chosen for this study: Copiapoa cinerea var. haseltoniana, Ferocactus wislizenii, Mammillaria columbiana subsp. yucatanensis and Parodia mammulosa. It has been reported that dew condenses on the spines of C. cinerea and that it does not on the spines of F. wislizenii, and...
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Four species of cacti were chosen for this study: Copiapoa cinerea var. haseltoniana, Ferocactus wislizenii, Mammillaria columbiana subsp. yucatanensis and Parodia mammulosa. It has been reported that dew condenses on the spines of C. cinerea and that it does not on the spines of F. wislizenii, and our preliminary observations of M. columbiana and P. mammulosa revealed a potential for collecting dew water. This study found all four cacti to harvest dew on their stems and spines (albeit rarely on the spines of F. wislizenii). Dew harvesting experiments were carried out in the UK, recording an increase in cacti mass on dewy nights. By applying a ranking relative to a polymethyl methacrylate (Plexiglas) reference plate located nearby, it was found that C. cinerea collected the most airborne moisture followed by M. columbiana, P. mammulosa and F. wislizenii respectively, with mean efficiency ratio with respect to the Plexiglas reference of 3.48 ± 0.5, 2.44 ± 0.06, 1.81 ± 0.14 and 1.27 ± 0.49 on observed dewy nights. A maximum yield of normalized performance of 0.72 ± 0.006 l/m−2 on one dewy night was recorded for C. cinerea. Removing the spines from M. columbiana was found to significantly decrease its dew harvesting efficiency. The spines of three of the species were found to be hydrophilic in nature, while F. wislizenii was hydrophobic; the stems of all four species were hydrophilic. The results of this study could be translated into designing a biomimetic water collecting device that utilizes cactus spines and their microstructures.