On average, drivers use approximately 20 liters of water each year to keep their windshields clean. To help conserve natural resources, Daniel and Lara Krohn from Jülich, Germany, recently invented a system that reuses rainwater to clean vehicle windshields.
Inspiration for Daniel and Lara came in the form of a family trip. While traveling last summer, the Krohn family found themselves trapped in a rather heavy downpour. When it came time to clear away the mess left by the storm, Daniel and Lara’s father discovered that the windscreen wiper reservoir was out of water. As a result, the wipers made the windshield even dirtier.
“It was a downpour,” explained 11-year-old Daniel. “There was water everywhere – except in the windscreen wiper reservoir. My sister and I thought this was really funny and then the answer suddenly seemed obvious. Simply reuse the rainwater.”
Daniel and his nine-year-old sister Lara decided to assemble a system to reuse rainwater for an upcoming science competition. To create the system, the siblings took apart their toy fire engine and removed the engine’s pump, which they placed inside an aquarium. To ensure the water was clean, Daniel and Lara added a filtering system. The Krohn siblings’ idea ended up earning them first place in the competition.
The experiment also garnered interest from the engineers at Ford. In fact, Ford decided to replicate the experiment on a larger scale, with help from the Krohns. A larger version of the device was installed into a Ford S-MAX vehicle, which was then introduced to heavy rainfall. In less than five minutes, the S-MAX’s washer reservoir was completely full. According to Ford’s calculations, if the estimated 291 million cars traveling on European roads all used this system, it would save drivers almost six billion liters of water every year.
Ford’s engineers are hard at work developing ways to capture water via rain, condensation and moisture in the air. Yet sometimes, the most impressive of innovations can come from the youngest of scientists.
This article is presented by Jannell Ford in Hanover, Massachusetts.