One tree sequesters approximately 1 metric ton of CO2 in 40 years. The United Nations and the IPCC consider planting trees to be one of the most effective ways to reduce global carbon levels.
The number of reforestation projects is increasing fast. Driven by large companies wanting to offset their footprint, governments wishing to meet emission targets and organizations and local governments that want to increase biodiversity.
However, these projects compete with the growing need for agricultural lands, to feed the increasing global population. On the other hand, there is 2 billion hectare of degraded land world-wide. These areas are not suitable for agriculture and difficult for reforestation. As rains decrease and areas with access to river and ground water are used for agriculture, water shortage is the biggest challenge when planting forests.
Therefore, reforestation efforts struggle with high mortality rates in the first summers, when the trees haven’t yet developed a sufficiently deep root system. Requiring them to revisit the area to plant extra trees and/or water the surviving trees. Which is significantly driving costs. Furthermore, the ‘planting window’ is very short.
Some solutions are deployed, using water reservoirs either underground or above in plastic sacs, but these are expensive, time consuming to plant and fill (water trucks) and only supply water for a limited period.
Sponsh uses nature inspired nanotechnology to irrigate young trees, by tapping into a reservoir that is already used by plants and animals: the atmosphere around us. Together with Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands, we developed a temperature-sensitive smart textile that produces water from air
At night in cold temperatures, the material makes a light hydrogen bond with water molecules, absorbing up to three times it’s weight in water. Heated by the morning sun this water is released directly to the tree roots. Without adding energy and fully off-grid.
Our water producing tree guards are affordable (USD 2), increase survival rates from 20-30% to 80-90% and require no extra installation labor or any maintenance whatsoever. They produce ~3.4 fl.oz. (100 ml) per day, even on the hottest, driest days in summer, have a lifetime of two years and are biodegradable. With Sponsh the planting window is doubled without a need to revisit for re-planting or extra irrigation. Many more areas can now be reforested.
Our mission is to provide 1 billion young trees with water from air by 2040.