Smog-Eating Designs That Fight Air Pollution

Outdoor air pollution is ultimately responsible for more than 3 million deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization. Already the single biggest killer in the world, outdoor air pollution is expected to double its toll as urban populations increase and car numbers are projected to reach the two billion mark by 2050.

While governments grapple with legislation and its enforcement, more and more creative ways to combat air pollution in real time are being invented.

The Italian architectural agency Stefano Boeri Architetti designs in the Netherlands’ city of Utrecht a smog-eating “vertical forest tower”, which will feature luxury apartments and more than 300 species of plants. A new tower, called the Utrecht Vertical Forest, will be able to absorb more than 5.4 tons of CO2 annually, according to its architects. This project is continuing the “vertical forest” concept Stefano Boeri trialed with a tower in Lausanne, Switzerland, and a pair of towers in Milan, Italia.

Picture: Unsplash/ Chris Barbalis

Stefano Boeri Architetti also announced that it will build a “forest city,” made up of towers covered in 40,000 trees and nearly one million plants, in Liuzhou, China by 2020. The new city will host 30,000 people, absorb almost 10,000 tons of CO2 and 57 tons of pollutants per year and produce approximately 900 tons of oxygen.

Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde has created the world’s largest smog vacuum cleaner called The Smog Free Tower. This seven-meter-tall tower runs on green energy and is capable of filtering 70 to 80 percent of harmful PM2.5 and PM10 particles from the surrounding air, thus producing 30,000 cubic meters of clean air every hour.

The tiny particles of carbon removed from the air are compressed and set in glass. Such ‘diamonds’ are then used to make jewelry that is sold to help finance the construction of new towers and filtration products.

The next anti-smog tech Roosegaarde has trotted out, was a Smog Free Bicycle. The bike purifies the air using a module located between the bike’s handlebars. The module absorbs polluted air, filters it and then releases purified air in the cyclist’s face. The bike is currently at concept stage, and the first prototypes are said to arrive by the end of the year.

The Green City Solutions, a German-based company, created one more smog-eating design – the CityTree a concrete sculptural structure that breathes in fine dust, nitrogen oxide and CO2 from the air. It’s a moss-covered air purifier, which is 4 meters tall, around 3 meters wide and about 2 meters deep. The CityTree is already installed in several cities around the world, including Oslo, Glasgow, Paris, Brussels and Hong Kong. According to the company, their invention has the environmental benefit of up to 275 urban trees!

According to the World Health Organization, more than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits. And, as more people continue to move into cities where there is less nature, more industry, more cars, and more air pollution, it is important to create new innovative ways to improve air quality and to reduce harmful effects of polluted air on our health and environment.

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