How to Turn Smog into Gemstones

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smogringThe world’s largest air purifier, the Smog Free Tower, is turning smog into gem stones, allowing you to wear – instead of breathe in – pollution. Designed by Daan Roosegaarde, of Dutch Studio Roosegaarde, this 7 metre tall tower removes the pollutants from over 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour before compressing the fine particulates of smog into black gems.

Presented in rings or cufflinks, each gem contains the smog from 1000m3 of air. They are currently available for purchase through the studio.

Unlike regular air filters, the Smog Free Tower is capable of removing even the smallest – and most dangerous – airborne pollutants. [1] Most air pollution deaths are caused by particles small enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs, resulting in heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and respiratory diseases.[2] In an outdoor environment, the filters are capable of removing 60 percent of the nanoparticles, extending to 70 percent indoors.[3]

The technology itself is safe and tested, having been used in many hospitals. To collect the smog particles, the tower is charged with a small positive current, sending positive ions into the air. The ions attach to the dust and are then drawn to a negatively charged counter electrode, while the clean air is released into the outside atmosphere. The entire system runs on 1400 watts of green wind energy, comparable to that of a water boiler. [4]

 

Successful Prototype

 

The first prototype, funded by grants from the mayor and local governments, was unveiled just last month outside of Roosegaarde’s Rotterdam studio. As an energy port city, CO2 emissions in Rotterdam are among the highest in the world. A 2011 study by the International Institute for Environmental Development showed Rotterdam’s emissions reached 29.8 tons of CO2 per capita, nearly triple Shanghai’s 11.2 tons per capita.[5] It is a fitting innovation for a city actively aiming to achieve a 50 percent reduction in emissions by 2025 (compared to 1990 levels).

Air pollution, of course, is not constrained to one city. Outdoor air pollution kills over 3.3 million people a year, a rate set to double by 2050 if no action is taken. It has now surpassed poor sanitation and a lack of clean drinking water as the biggest environmental cause of premature death.[6]

To promote the Smog Free Tower around the world, funds from the organization’s Kickstarter campaign – which successfully raised 113,153 euros – will go towards publicizing and transporting the tower to various cities, including its next location: Beijing. Negotiations are currently in place in Mumbai, Paris and Kazakhstan, with interested parties in Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.[7]

 

A Change in Perspective

 

smogfreetower1

One concern is whether the presence of such a tower will detract from efforts to tackle the causes of air pollution. However, the aim of the tower isn’t simply to reduce pollution, but to prompt a change in perspective. Says Roosegaarde, “it’s really weird that we accept [pollution] as something normal, and take it for granted.” [8] Visiting the area around the tower provides “a sensory experience of a clean future, a place where people can experience clean air.” [9] Roosegaarde hopes that the Smog Free Tower will serve as motivation and inspiration for individuals, companies, cities and nonprofit organizations.

The cost of the tower and its filters have not yet been released to the public. Current filters of this caliber range from 1,600 euros to 118,000 euros.[10] These are costs that could, theoretically, be recovered through the sale of the Smog Free gems.

Even if unfeasible for entire cities, the opportunity to experience clear air, and see how much it differs from that which we’re currently breathing, is more than welcome.

To learn more about the Smog Free Project, visit their website or Facebook page, or watch a video here.

 

Notes:

[1] http://gizmodo.com/the-largest-air-purifier-ever-built-sucks-up-smog-and-t-1729298355?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/16/more-people-die-from-air-pollution-than-malaria-and-hivaids-new-study-shows

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/sep/19/worlds-first-smog-filtering-tower-on-tour-daan-roosegaarde-air-pollution

[4] http://gizmodo.com/the-largest-air-purifier-ever-built-sucks-up-smog-and-t-1729298355?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

[5] http://www.dutchdailynews.com/rotterdam-most-polluting-cities/

[6] http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/9789264210448-sum-en/index.html?contentType=%2fns%2fSummary&itemId=%2fcontent%2fsummary%2f9789264210448-sum-en&mimeType=text%2fhtml&containerItemId=%2fcontent%2fbook%2f9789264210448-en&accessItemIds=

[7] https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1777606920/the-smog-free-tower

[8] http://gizmodo.com/the-largest-air-purifier-ever-built-sucks-up-smog-and-t-1729298355?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

[9] http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/sep/19/worlds-first-smog-filtering-tower-on-tour-daan-roosegaarde-air-pollution

[10] http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/sep/19/worlds-first-smog-filtering-tower-on-tour-daan-roosegaarde-air-pollution

 

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Rachel Pott

Rachel Pott

Rachel Pott is a writer, teacher and human rights advocate from Peterborough, Canada.

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