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The Smog Free Project


We are all aware that air pollution is a serious problem. It may not be felt as much in the West where the air quality is moderate at worst but over in China, for example, it is a whole different story. The pollution is so bad it becomes visible as smog, making even just going outside unhealthy. Polluted air claims millions of lives every year, so obviously something needs to be done. Luckily, Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde has found an innovative new way to deal with smog.

Roosegaarde, with the help of nanoparticles expert Bob Ursem have created the Smog Free Tower, "the largest air-purifier in the world" in Roosegaarde's own words.

So, how exactly does the tower work? Basically, it sucks in the dirty air around it and then filters out the smog particles. Of course it does not get rid of all the tiny particles, but it does create a large bubble of air that is up to 75% cleaner. Also, the tower doesn't use more power than a water boiler, isn't that amazing?

The filtered smog is then compressed into small cubes which are used to create jewellery. This has been causing all sorts of headlines, saying that the tower turns smog into diamonds. And while this is not exactly true, it isn't really false either. Smog is made up of mostly carbon which, given enough time, could be compressed into diamonds. But to preserve energy, smog inside the tower is only compressed for a short time, creating small smog cubes. According to Roosegaarde, one of these cubes represents 1000 cubic metres of clean air, so at least that's something.

The first of these towers was activated in September of 2015 in Rotterdam, where it has been cleaning the air since. The Smog Free Project in China has been launched recently. The tower will go on a tour through China, starting in Beijing, the city that inspired Roosegaarde to create this project in the first place.

There is some concern about whether or not the filter is scalable however. Some think it may not be the solution to our problems. To add to that, the filters can be quite costly, ranging from €1'600 all the way to €118'000. But even so, the Smog Free Tower should definitely help build more awareness, as it might be a shock to return from the bubble of clean air back into the smog of the city. Roosegaarde himself said that the bubble clean air will be a place for people to come together and work on a solution for the global problem that is pollution.

So the Smog Free Towers aren't the ultimate solution for removing smog. But they are a step in the right direction for sure. Besides, the rings and cufflinks made from the Smog Free Cubes are a nice little souvenir.

By Jan - London N.G.O. Intern

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