Lima, Peru, is the second largest city in the world that is located in a desert after Cairo, which makes its inhabitants vulnerable to the scarcity of water. This issue affects specially the population that lives in the poorer outskirts of the city, who often depend on wells as the main source of this element. The main water sources of the city are three rivers that during the winter (dry season in the Andes) depend on glaciers as their main source. However, according to a study in the journal The Cryosphere, Andean glaciers have shrunk between 30% and 50% since the 70’s, which threatens the availability of fresh water in the future.
The solution: A billboard that creates drinking water out of thin air
The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC) built a billboard that captures air humidity and produces potable water in Bujama, a district located in the outskirts of Lima that gets less than two inches of rain a year. However, this place has an atmospheric humidity of 98%, according to UTEC. This technology consists in a system that uses a water purifying process called reverse osmosis to produce water out of the humidity and stores it in 20 liter tanks. Finally, the potable drinking water is dispensed at the bottom of the billboard.
The population of the Bujama district, located in the south of Lima, Peru.
The target audience of UTEC: potential new undergraduate students of engineering programs of UTEC.
UTEC wanted to attract potential engineering applicants by demonstrating an innovative solution to a sustainability problem through technology. The university identified the problem of water scarcity and determined the ideal place to locate the billboard that would solve that issue while announcing application deadlines: right next to the Panamerican Highway, south of Lima.