Can you pull water out of thin air?
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:
Yes, but pulling it out of Thick air is a lot easier. Thick as in humid. Just ask the soggy residents of Lima, Peru.
"But, wait," you say," "Isn't Lima in the desert?"
Yes – and good job recalling your fourth-grade geography. But it's also on the coast, remember? Moisture from the Pacific Ocean often raises Lima's humidity above 90 percent!
Steamy, yes, but not much drinking water. That's where researchers at Lima's University of Engineering and Technology come in. See, a water shortage wasn't their only problem. Student applications were down. Their solution? A billboard that promotes the university's engineering know-how by making drinking water out of humid air!
Behind the billboard is a sort of air-conditioner. Electricity cools the humid air, and its moisture condenses. That liquid is filtered by reverse-osmosis, and collected in a tank. When locals want water, they just bring a bucket to the billboard and turn on the tap!
The billboard makes 26 gallons of drinkable water per day.
As for university applications? They're up! If a bit damp. Ah, well!
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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.