Incredible Billboard Produces Drinkable Water From Air; Saves Local Community

This video was posted on YouTube in March of 2013. We’re not sure how we missed it, but it’s one of the most amazing technology stories we’ve seen in years. That’s because it uses incredible ingenuity to bring water to a drought plagued part of the world.

When it comes to billboards, most people see them as an eyesore — particularly the new digital versions that have popped up in cities around the world in recent years. But this billboard in Lima, Peru, is a life saver, producing around 100 liters of water a day (about 26 gallons) from nothing more than humidity, a basic filtration system, and some really smart, dedicated people. According to the YouTube page, this is how it came about.

The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC) was looking for something splashy to kick off its application period for 2013 enrollment. Together with its ad agency, the group came up with an idea to create a billboard water generator, a device that would look like a typical advertisement sign but which would convert Lima’s incredibly humid air into potable water.

Lima is the largest city in Peru, and the fifth largest in all of the Americas, with close to 9 million people living in the city and local areas. It sits along the southern Pacific Ocean, so humidity averages 83%, but Lima also lies at the northern edge of the Atacama, the driest desert in the world. So the city sees around a half an inch of rain each year. The people rely on wells, but say that these are drying up, and the water in them is sometimes polluted.

In the short video, you’ll see how the billboard water generator works.

It’s not entirely self-sufficient, needing electricity to operate the five devices that comprise the billboard’s inverse osmosis filtration system, and it’s not clear how much power that requires.  However, if this is something that could be scaled on a larger level — and if solar or wind power could be used to operate the billboard’s systems — the benefits are obvious. Check out the video above to see the miraculous billboard in action!