The UTEC Billboard: Water Conservation Out of Thin Air

The UTEC Billboard: Water Conservation out of thin air title with blue background

What do billboards and water conservation have to do with each other? Normally, the answer is nothing, but a unique billboard in Lima, Peru can turn the humidity in the air into clean drinking water. Does this sound too good to be true? Well, thanks to the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC), potable water is now available to villagers who were used to drinking dirty well water.

Clean Water from Thin Air

The billboard produces about 100 liters of water each day with nothing more than humidity, basic filtration and gravity. Lima was the perfect place for this unique water-producing billboard because the air is often well saturated at around 98 percent humidity, yet this coastal desert city only receives about one-half inch of precipitation each year. After Cairo, Lima is the largest desert city in the world with about 7.6 million people living there.

UTEC's Inspiration

What drove UTEC to make such an astounding installation in one of the driest, yet highly occupied cities in the world? It all began when the university was about to open its application period for 2013. UTEC leaders wanted to draw the attention of students, so they turned to Mayo DraftFCB, an ad agency that struck on the idea of a billboard that would promise thousands of liters of clean drinking water to Lima residents every month. UTEC ran with the idea and actually built it.

How the Billboard Works

The unique technology implemented in the billboard allows it to capture air humidity and turn it into drinking water. The inverse osmosis filtration system includes five generators, each of which is capable of creating 20 liters of pure, clean water each day. As it's generated, the water travels through small ducts to a central holding tank at the base of the billboard where Lima residents can access the water from a faucet. While the billboard isn't entirely self-sufficient - electricity is required to power the osmosis process - it produced an impressive 9,450 liters of water in its first three months from December 2012 to February 2013. This is enough water to sustain hundreds of families per month. If one billboard can produce this amount of water from thin air, just imagine what dozens, hundreds or even thousands could do when placed strategically in desert cities or outlying towns? The result could be an end to the water crisis that desert dwellers face today, due in large part to climate change.

Realizing the Importance of Water Conservation

When you understand how desperate some cities and towns are for clean water, it makes you realize the importance of water conservation at home. Where we live, water is easy to take for granted. All you have to do is turn on the bathroom or kitchen faucet and you have a seemingly endless supply of clean, fresh water at whatever temperature you desire. However, water clearly isn't an abundant, endless resource all over the world. That's why water conservation is important. Help ensure more water is made available to those who need it most by taking steps toward better water conservation today. To learn more about the importance of conserving water every day, please contact Mr. Rooter®.