Sometimes good ideas just pour on you from the sky. That is basically what happened to brother and sister Daniel and Lara Krohn, who recently won a science competition by coming up with an idea how to clean car windscreens more effectively. And it all happened when one time Daniel and Lara were travelling with their family and it started to rain.
Brother and sister Daniel and Lara Krohn were travelling with their family in a car when it started to rain. Windscreen wipers were doing their job of pushing the water away to keep the drive safe. However, once it stopped raining, father, who was driving, noticed that windscreen washer fluid is over. Children thought it is funny how everything around is soaking wet and full of water, but the little plastic windscreen washer bottle is empty. And so as the windscreen became more and more dirty they came up with an idea – why cars don’t collect rainwater to use it later to wash the windscreen?
Children couldn’t believe that this idea was not tried before. And so they made a scale prototype of their invention. 9-year-old Lara said: “To try it out, we took apart our toy fire engine and fixed the pump to a model car inside an aquarium. Then we added a filtering system to ensure the water was clean. It just worked really well.” Good ideas rarely pass unnoticed by the automotive industry and so Ford quickly picked up this invention and made a full-scale version of it – a Ford S-MAX test car with rainwater collection and reusing system. It didn’t require a lot of work to install either – engineers simply put tiny holes at the bottom piece of the trim below the windscreen and connected them to the reservoir. From here water can be simply sprayed onto the windscreen whenever driver wants to.
Cars are using more and more water. Not so long ago only the windscreen had to be cleaned, but now here are spraying nozzles by the headlights, various sensors and cameras will need washing as well. Situation is going to worsen as autonomous cars become more and more common. And it is all happening when we are told to save water. However, it is going to take some time for cars to actually start collecting rainwater, even though it is such an obvious solution.
If engineers can develop such system without adding too much complexity to the car, it could one day become reality. However, water would have to be drained in winter months to prevent it from freezing. Also, tiny drains below the windscreen would be prone to clog. Engineers will have to think about that if they are serious about taking advantage of this brilliant idea.