Fog-collecting jacket makes the user self-sufficient in fresh water, even in the most harsh environments
Entrepreneur Pavels Hedström aims to highlight fresh water as a resource.
1 Aug 2023

Copenhagen-based architect and designer Pavels Hedström is the founder of Inxects. The studio is developing designs and concepts that addresses future global environmental challenges, such as food security, water scarcity, energy management, and circular economy. He’s now in the research phase of a new project that utilises heat from computers as a driving resource in local food production.

— I am also working on a building concept that upcycles semi-submersible oil rigs into plastic waste management industries that turns plastic into protein, he says.

In 2019, when in the masters program called Architecture and Extreme Environments at the Danish Royal Academy of Architecture, he initiated Fog-X. Described as a mobile living unit, it could harvest 10 litres of water a day by catching fog — even in the driest areas on the planet. 

— The first design became an inflatable backpack that would provide the user with shelter and an antenna that could be unfolded into a structure that would harvest fog with an integrated Raschel mesh, Hedström explains. He continues:

— The design was initially inspired by the Namib Desert beetle that has the ability to gather mist using its own body. I was also researching a lot about the cactus plants in the Atacama to understand how they survive in the Atacama Desert, which is the driest area on earth. The plants I was looking at had the ability to catch fog, so I was starting to investigate how this skill could be applied for a single user. This was the birth of Fog-X.

The ability to catch fog, he continues, comes from using the mentioned Raschel mesh, a plastic based material which has higher tensile strength and show very high anisotropy of mechanical properties. 

— It’s used for fog catching operations in parts of Chile among other locations on the planet.

This year, Hedström revisited the project for which he received the Lexus Design Award 2023. He then got the chance to work with world class architects and designers to develop the concept further, creating a new, more accessible and user-friendly version.

— It’s now a jacket that is more durable, accessible, lighter, and easier to repair in case of damage, which can provide its user with 10 litres of water a day by harvesting fog, mist and rain. The jacket is also empowered by an mobile app that helps the user navigate to optimal locations for fog catching. It can easily be transformed into a fog catching shelter that unfolds a sail-like structure that would harvest droplets, carried in the fog and channel them into an integrated water bladder.

— Fog is a dynamic resource, so the importance of knowing when and where to catch it is highly important. This was why the Fog-X app was a necessity in terms of optimising the harvest of the user. It’s combining everyday objects to provide the user with the ability to be self-sufficient in fresh water, even in the most harsh environments on earth. The design makes the user an active agent in the surrounding ecosystems, while harvesting fog. It changes your perspective of fresh water as a resource.

What was it like creating it?

— A lot of intelligent strategies and systems can be find in nature. This is certainly the case with Fog-X. Throughout the project, it was clear that the solutions for water scarcity was out in the desert. As designers we need to learn from existing ecosystems. Creating this made me realise the importance of designing while being in the environment of concern. Each time I went to the Atacama, I learned many crucial aspects of the project. It was challenging to design prototypes in Scandinavia without being able to step out in the ecosystem to try it. Everything needed to be thought of and speculated in several times before taking off in an airplane to the desert for testing.

— Another important learning is the importance of simple and analog ways of solving critical problems, so it can be understood and further developed locally, even with limited economic resources. What’s also crucial is the implementation of easy-to-use tools that could be accessible from everyday technology, like a smartphone. Even though this jacket is not the solution on the issue of global water scarcity, it can explore strategies and principles that could be applied in larger scale, on buildings or infrastructure. Designs like Fog-X can change the mind of the user and how we approach existing ecosystems. 

”It was clear that the solutions for water scarcity was out in the desert. As designers we need to learn from existing ecosystems”

After developing this prototype, have you received interest in taking it to market?

— I have been approached from different actors in a variety of fields showing a lot of interest for the design and the strategy. The Fog-X app has a lot of potential, which is were the further development needs to take place, and me and the team are investigating the possibilities of taking it further. Still only a proof of concept, it will unlock a new type of water infrastructure that will enable a wide range of possibilities in terms of fog catching devices and structures, so this is to be continued, says Hedström.

The app.