We are currently living in a highly commercialized age, where billboards are on every corner – distracting you from your daily commute.
Usually, these visual displays are just a ploy to get you to buy things you don’t really need.
But what if billboards actually served a purpose other than strictly advertising a product or service?
Researchers in Lima, Peru recently took on that challenge.
There are about 8.5 million people living in Lima, which is located along the northern edge of one of the driest deserts in the world. Because this city only averages about 0.51 inches of rain per year, for centuries they have relied heavily on the drainage from the Andes mountains as their source of drinking and potable water needs.
Unfortunately, climate change has started to limit that water supply.
Due to the steady decline, there are over a million people living without running water. They either have to draw it from polluted wells or rely on unregulated private water trucks that tend to charge 20 times the price of tap water.
As a solution to this problem, researchers in Peru have teamed up with an ad agency, Mayo DraftFCB, to provide a practical solution. Their resolution was simple: a billboard that turns air humidity into drinking water. Average air humidity in Lima is about 83%, due to its location along the Southern Pacific Ocean.
The University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) was able to not only solve the problem with their ingenuity, they were also able to capture the attention of new applicants.
Aside from just delivering drinking water to residents who live in such a harsh environment, the distinct billboard was also designed to also inspire young Peruvians to study engineering at UTEC. “We wanted future students to see how engineers can also solve social needs in daily basis kinds of situations,” said Alejandro Aponte, creative director at Mayo DraftFCB.
The billboard consists of five primary devices that act as a reverse osmosis system. When the humid air is captured, it then runs through an air filter into a condenser, which in turn creates water. From this point, it passes through a carbon filter into a central holding tank. It is capable of producing up to 100 liters of potable water a day.
In order to gain access to this fresh drinking water, people passing by just need to turn on the faucet at the base of the billboard. It’s that simple.
According to the promotional video, this ingenious device , and in the three months since it was installed, it has already supplied Lima’s inhabitants with 9,450 liters.
So far, there is only one of these billboards along the Pan-American Highway, but just imagine how the many troubled places around the world would be able to benefit from such resourceful ingenuity.