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The Green Life: Peruvian University Makes Water out of Thin Air

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August 16, 2013

Peruvian University Makes Water out of Thin Air

Water billboardMost of the time, billboards are used to sell new products, television shows, or government messages. However, in Lima, Peru, the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) and Mayo Advertising has used this publicity tool to provide people with a basic human right: drinking water.

Lima and its surrounding villages are located in one of the driest regions in the world. The annual precipitation rate is a close-to-nothing 0.51 inches so people resort to taking water from polluted wells. The dryness of the area is largely unrepresented in world news and politics. According to UTEC, Lima has 96% humidity but until now, nobody has seen the oasis that has been right in front of them all along. UTEC decided to take the moisture from the surrounding air and convert it into free, purified water. This billboard is located on the Panamerica highway, in the district of Mala and province of Cañete.

What started as a marketing technique for the university's admission process became a worldwide sensation. This simple yet innovative project serves the needs of the community and sheds light on the potential of an engineering degree.

"The objective is to wake up the engineering vocation by making it more attractive to young people, and to turn them into highly qualified professionals who can use science, technology, and innovation for the sustainable development of Peru," says Jessica Ruas Quartara, Director of UTEC Promotion.

UTEC employed an already-existing technology for this resourceful project. Five machines are located high in the billboard itself. First, the air is passed through a series of filters for purification. Then, reverse osmosis occurs, allowing the water to undergo condensation. It passes through UV lights to maintain its purity. The water is stored in the collector tank where the supply is monitored. This ensures that there is never any excess or shortage of water. Finally, when activated, the water flows down a pipe to the tap at the bottom where passersby can fill their bottles. All in all, this billboard generates approximately 96 liters of drinking water per day. 

"The concept of the creative campaign is "Ingenuity is Action" and focuses on showing that behind all innovations around us, there are engineers who, through their creativity, have been able to solve problems and contribute to society," says Humberto Polar, Regional VP Creative of Mayo Advertising.

Watch the video below.

-Image courtesy of Mayo Advertising

Ailsa_SMAilsa Sachdev is an editorial intern at Sierra. She is a rising senior at Mount Holyoke College and spent the last semester reporting on witchcraft in Morocco. She is passionate about food and travel, and knows how to say "I'm hungry" in over 10 languages.


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