Self-Filling Canteens


Well, water bottle to be more accurate.

There's a critter called the Namib Desert Beetle (Stenocara gracilipes, though you probably already knew that) in southwest Africa that collects all the water it needs with its carapace. (Grunts: carapace). The beetle lives in one of the driest deserts in the world (the Namib) and it gathers the water it needs with tiny bumps on its wings. The bumps attract water (hydrophilic) with their tips from the morning fog in the morning. Water droplets coalesce (grunts: coalesce) then slide down into its mouth.

So think about it - make kit with a synthetic material that mimics this beetle's ability and your grunts can be acting as walking condensers while they patrol.

A prototype has apparently been put together by some graduates from the Boston College biology program working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to reports, the container they've developed (which is still a long way from production) can pull approximately a gallon and a half of water out of the air every day.

The Namib Desert.

The company doing the research using this Namib Beetle 'technology' is NBD Nano ( They're mission doesn't address military applications, but you don't have to think very hard to see how useful this sort of thing could be at a Combat Outpost or for 'teeth' personnel who operate waaaay out from the logistical 'tail'.

One of NBD's founders (all of whom look like they're barely old enough to drive) spoke to the BBC and said, "I initially had this inspiration from a biomimicry course and biomimicry is looking to nature to draw inspiration for sustainable technology. It was important to apply this to our design and we have developed a proof of concept and [are] currently creating our first fully functional prototype. We think our first prototype will collect anywhere from half a liter of water to three liters per hour depending on local environments.”

He goes on to explain, “We take the ambiant air from the environment. So you can put this in your backyard per say, and what it would do is it would take the air in your backyard and start pushing it through our device and from this the materials will actually collect the condensation, or the moisture, from the air due to the relative humidity that naturally occurs in the air everywhere.”

If they can put this sort of gear into mass production, it could have a huge impact on humanitarian efforts, camping/hiking/outdoor materials and of course tactical equipment.The idea is by no means new, from science fiction (waste-recycling battle armor has appeared in pulp sci-fi novels for half a century or more, and it's been seen in real life before as well) but nothing practical and field-appropriate has been developed yet. Hopefully that'll change - consider its impact on the immense logistics tail of an army on the move.

Now they just need something that creates beer while you're on the move - until then, good ole H2O will always be an important aspect of "EDR" (Every Day Ready).


Mad Duo Clear!

About the Authors: Richard “Swingin’ Dick” Kilgore and Jake “Slim” Call are the HMFICs at Breach-Bang-Clear ( They write for current and former military, LEOs, contractors and trained and educated responsible armed citizens. They are the most door-kickingest, trigger-pullingest action figures in the tactical operator tactically operational world. Subscribe to them and stay informed about TTPs, new kit, and latest in what’s stoopid (and occasionally inspiring) in the military and modern society or check them out on Facebook.

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