New Delhi: While looking out of a Beijing hotel window three years ago, Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde observed clear skies. And four days later in the morning, Roosegaarde was in for a huge shock when the same skies turned into blanket of smog, engulfing the city. When the shock finally settled in, Roosegaarde realised the gravity of the situation and utilised his artistic skills to draw up an innovative solution – a Smog Free Tower to turn smog into an object of beauty, diamonds. The Smog Tower, which is part of Roosegaarde’s Smog Free Project – a series of urban innovations to reduce pollution, is essentially a huge 23 feet tall smog vacuum cleaner that sucks up polluted air, clean it and release it back to create smog free air zones. Here’s a video that shows how the innovation works:
— Ayushmann Khurrana (@ayushmannk) November 11, 2017
Impressed by the technology and just how crucial it is in times like the air pollution crisis that Delhi and North India are facing, actor Ayushmann Khurrana shared the video on Twitter.
The tweet garnered over 4500 retweets and 8400 likes in three days since it has been posted. It also got a response from Banega Swachh India Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan highlighting how this innovation is the need of the hour.
really ? .. need to get one of these https://t.co/cWFpXMDSxS
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) November 12, 2017
The Smog Tower, which Roosegaarde and his team of experts built, can suck up to 30,000 cubic meters of polluted air per hour. Equipped with environment friendly technology, it cleans on the nano level – the PM2.5 and PM 10 particles – with the use of very little electricity (same as a water boiler – 1170 watts) and then releases the clean air, ensuring the air around it is 55 to 75 percent cleaner then rest of the city.
Explaining how this smog vacuum cleaner works, Mr. Roosegaarde said, “We use little electricity to make the tower electrically charged, which then attracts smog particles.”
The effect of the Smog Free Tower has been validated by the results compiled by the Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands. According to the research done by the university, the tower, which uses patented positive ionisation technology, captures and removes up to 70 percent of the ingested PM 10 and up to 50 percent ingested PM 2.5. The workings of the vacuum cleaner have been validated by Dr. Bert Blocken of the Eindhoven University.
From Smog to Diamond
The Smog Free Tower, which has its roots in a Kickstarter campaign that raised $127,000 in August 2015, actually does more than suck up pollution. Since more than 40 percent of the collected pollutants is carbon, Mr Roosegaarde has struck on a novel innovation that is to use high pressure to convert the carbon residue to diamonds, which can then be sold.
On the process of creating diamonds from smog, Mr. Roosegaarde said, “We compress the carbon of smog for 30 minutes to create smog free rings. And, by buying a ring, a buyer donates a 1000 cubic meter of clean air to the city where the tower is situated.”
The smog free ring is also part of the prestigious art collection of Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. According to the information available on Studio Roosegaarde website, the money raised by jewellery made with these diamonds will go towards supporting the development and building more Smog Free towers.
Notably, Mr. Roosegaarde has also applied the same theory to bicycles and created a Smog Free Bicycle, which features a front-facing module that inhales polluted air, cleans it, and the releases clean air around the cyclist.
The Smog Tower is currently being used by China Central Government, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in China, Film Method Works, City of Rotterdam, Stichting Doen and Port of Rotterdam.
Mr. Roosegaarde believes that such innovation will address the air pollution issues in China and India, and looks forward to install Smog Free Tower in India as well.
We’ve created environments that none of us want. Where children have to stay inside, and where the air around us is a health hazard, said Roosegaarde.
He’s of the view that – we all (government officials, students, clean-tech industry and people) need to work together to make cities better for humans again.
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