Monday, May 13, 2013

A Fitting Farewell from Chris Hadfield

For those who haven't been following Chris Hadfield on Facebook and Twitter, in his five months as commander of the ISS, he has given the public a rare look into the goings on in space. Communicating with classrooms, testing out people's theories, and sending down daily images of the glory of Earth are just a few of the ways he made his journey special. He is due to arrive back on Earth tonight and to commemorate, he's left us with this wonderful send off.

Video from Chris Hadfield's YouTube Channel

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Refreshing Take Part II

After I published my post on the billboard in Lima, Peru that draws water from the air and purifies it for public use, I was able to speak with Alejandro Aponte, the Creative Director at Mayo DraftFCB (Referred to as Mayo Advertising previously). Alejandro and his partner, Juan Donalisio were approached by UTEC to come up with an idea that would entice applications to the school. While they had prime advertising real-estate on the Panamericana Highway, a direct route to summer fun at the beach, they needed an innovative idea. Together the team landed on the water system, but when they presented it to UTEC, Mayo DraftFCB wasn't sure how feasible this would be. Lucky for them, UTEC jumped on the project and according to Alejandro, "What worried us most was that we could not find that kind of technology, but after a lot of research and bringing together the right people, we made it."

Alejandro is excited about the future of the project and what systems like this billboard could mean for the community. "The great thing about this system is that it only requires atmospheric humidity to be at least 50%, which in Peru we are lucky to have so in many geographical areas."

With the early success of the billboard, and the vast media attention it's garnered, perhaps we will see many more billboards like this one cropping up in the future.

Check out this promo video in English produced by Mayo DraftFCB

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Refreshing Take on Advertising--This Billboard Gives Back


An advertising campaign for the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima, Peru aims not only to make them a household name, but to show future students what their innovations are capable of. UTEC worked with Mayo Advertising to create the "Ingenuity in Action" campaign which features a billboard on the Panamericana Highway that draws water from the air, purifies it, and delivers it to a faucet at its base for public use.

Lima, situated on a coastal desert, receives only around 1.5 centimeters of rain a year. Nine months of the year however, the city is covered with a blanket of dense fog as the moisture makes its way from the ocean, inland to the rainforests. Access to clean water is an ongoing problem for the 9 million residents living in and around Lima. Many reasons are to blame for rampant water insecurity, from mismanagement by private water companies to the reduction of the glacial water supply. People who are currently not reached by the public pumped water system must have water trucked in, which is often contaminated and costs residents ten times what the wealthy districts pay for tap water. With some families only bringing in $40 a month in earnings, the $10 a month that it can cost for water makes it nearly impossible to get ahead. There is a need for innovative solutions for providing potable water, which is what makes the school's campaign so eye catching.

The goal of the campaign is to draw the attention of prospective students to UTEC. Director of UTEC promotions Jessica Ruas Quartara says, "This highway billboard reveals the university education proposal, which is develop the ingenuity and talent of our students through a teaching based practice. The objective is to awake the engineering vocation by making it more attractive to young people, and to turn them into high qualified professionals who can use science, technology and innovation for sustainable development of Peru." The billboard has gotten plenty of attention, not just from prospective students, but from the greater community as well.

The billboard operates in two stages. First, as moisture-heavy air blows by the panel, condensers cool and trap the water. Next, a series of filtrations purify the water and bring it to a 25 gallon reservoir. To ensure the safety of the water, it is filtered with antistatic agents, activated carbon, minerals and reverse osmosis. UV lamps are the final purification measure. Electronic sensors keep track of water levels so that the reservoir is never filled to excess and helps prevent shortages. A computer system allows control signals to be transmitted wirelessly, lessening the need for dangerous highway maintenance. Local residents have flocked to the novelty, and in the three months the billboard has been operational, 9,450 liters of water have been delivered to the people.

Photo Flickr: Dragonwoman

Pulling vaporized water from the sky is not a completely novel idea for the area. Over the last decade, two biologists, Dr. Kai Tiedemann and Anne Lummerich started the Green Desert Project in the outskirts of Lima to provide water for crop irrigation in young communities. Rather than using electricity to condense the water from the air, they designed "fog catchers;" netted panels that allow water droplets to accumulate out of the fog. The tiny droplets aggregate until larger drops form and drip into gutters for collection. You've probably seen this phenomenon occurring on a spiderweb on a dewy morning. Original designs could bring down 150 gallons of water out of the air on very foggy days. Newer designs can net more than 600 gallons in a day. Several families can be served by one of these irrigation systems, and the project aims to eliminate the need for outside water for farming. Overall these systems are relatively inexpensive, and other aid groups have had success building smaller fog catchers for individual families for just $800.

These nets are a game changer for the poor communities outside of the city, yet these irrigation systems don't purify the water for consumption. The water can be filtered and boiled, but it isn't the same as the free-flowing drinking water the billboard system provides. Herein lies the problem. How can the billboard system be adapted to be cost effective in poorer areas?  Can these two ideas be combined, or is there a way to tweak the billboard to be used with less electricity or solar power?  The prospects are exciting, though it's still unclear how practical this system really is.

Some relief will come to the residents of Lima over the next three years. Last month, the government pledged to sink $3.1 billion into improvements in the water and sanitation infrastructure within the city. 148 new projects aim to extend pumped water and updated sewer systems to the outlying areas. Though it's unclear whether UTEC will receive funding from these plans for more billboards, perhaps in the near future a government official will find himself on the Panamericana Highway and a blue and white billboard will catch his eye.