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posted Sep 29, 2010, 4:06 PM by Patricia Martin
Huasco city is located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile by the river Huasco on a ground that used to be fertile for agriculture. However, in the last decade the water flow has decreased and tends to disappear in a near future. This project proposes a new strategy for collecting water in the Atacama Desert coast and recovering this area for productive uses. Hence, the project takes advantage of the phenomenon called "Camanchaca": a type of very dense coastal fog with dynamic characteristics. Its origin is due to the anticyclone Pacific giving rise to a type of cloud stratocumulus covering persistently a strip of coast from Peru to the coast of Chile. The base of this cloud is located at around 400 meters above sea level, producing great moisture levels under that height. When this cloud meets a mountain, the water vapor particles condense and fall in the form of rain. 

Images by Laboratorio de Artes Maquinicas

The idea is to build towers that capture the water humidity from the fog on the coast near the city of Huasco in northern Chile and supply water for farming, expanding the productive areas into the coast. The tower with a height of 400 meters is introduced into the camanchaca and traps the suspended water molecules over the coast of Huasco valley. The mist goes from outside to inside the tower. In this process, the water particles condense on the surface and channeled into the cistern located in the base of the tower. The water is collected and then redistributed for farming uses.

This project, which was developed by the “Laboratorio de Artes Maquínicas” under the supervision of Ciro Najle and Jorge Godoy at the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, seeks to understand and control a specific climate change in order to restore a productive activity that sustain a community.