Capture water while capturing attention

29 June 2015

In this third instalment of our Clean Water Inventions series, we take a look at an amazingly innovative advertising billboard that takes moisture from the air and converts it into filtered drinking water.

To kick off its enrolment application period in 2013, Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) began looking for a big idea to grab the attention of potential students. The university teamed up with an ad agency and developed a concept for a billboard that could convert Lima’s H2O-saturated air into potable water. Then they applied their engineering know-how and actually built it.

Lima happens to be the largest city in Peru and the fifth largest in all of the Americas, with close to nine million residents. Because it sits along the southern Pacific Ocean, the humidity in the city averages a high 83% (and it’s closer to 100% in the mornings). But, Lima is also part of a coastal desert; it lies at the northern edge of the Atacama, the driest desert in the world, meaning the city sees perhaps half an inch of rainfall each year.

Knowing how difficult it was for local residents to access potable water, the University recognised that they could build something that provided impactful marketing value as well as great social value.

The billboard works using an inverse osmosis filtration system, capturing the water and channelling it through small ducts to a central holding tank at the billboard’s base, where you’ll find — what else? — a tap. The billboard produces around 36,000 litres of water every year, which services the needs of hundreds of families.

Now that the idea has proven itself, we’ll soon see many more of these billboards popping up everywhere clean drinking water is vitally needed.


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