Creating Water Out of Thin Air


It started as a way to boost college enrollment – the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Peru created a billboard to advertise the application period for 2013. Lima, the capital of Peru, is a desert and only gets about half an inch of rain per year. Most of the citizens of Lima get their water from wells that aren’t clean and aren’t reliable. But the average humidity is about 98%, so UTEC worked with ad agency Mayo DraftFCB and created a billboard that advertised the university and converted the humid air into fresh, clean, potable water.


The humid air goes through an air filter, which removes dust, dirt, and other impurities from the air. The air then goes through a condenser, which separates the water from the air. The air is released back into the atmosphere, and the water goes through carbon filters to remove any additional impurities, and is collected in one of several 20 liter tanks. The billboard generates about 96 liters of water a day, providing access to clean water for hundreds of families per month.

Most Americans have never had to deal with water shortages or without access to clean water. But some regions of the United States are struggling with finding clean water as the result of drought and changing water needs. One in ten people in the world lack sufficient access to clean water. Over the next eight years, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities, increasing the need for clean water. Developing new technologies, like this billboard, will help make a difference in the lives of millions.

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