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Dutch Designer Creates Giant Electric Vacuum to Suck Smog out of the Air

China’s pollution crisis has been highlighted once again by a thick blanket of smog which has this time settled over the northeastern city of Harbin, reducing visibility to just 10 metres in some cases.

Beijing authorities have finally admitted that something must be done to reduce the pollution, but other than shutting down coal power plants, the main source of the airborne particles, which would be impractical due to their energy generating importance, alternative solutions are few and far between.

Harbin Smog

A Dutch designer, Daan Roosegaarde, believes that he has a solution to Beijing’s smog problem. He plans to bury huge copper coil underground, and use them to create a low powered electrostatic field which would then suck the particles out of the sky towards the ground.

Related article: China’s Plan to Reduce Coal-Fired Electricity Disastrous for Global Climate

The design would effectively work similar to a giant electric vacuum cleaner, and create a smog-free hole about 50-60 metres in diameter.

Daan doesn’t expect his design to offer a long-term solution to the problem of inner-city air pollution, he states that that “it’s a human problem not a technological problem,” and the only way to truly solve it is to change the way we use and generate energy. Instead he hopes that his design could be used to create awareness of how bad smog really is in some cities, as the difference between the inside and outside of the ring would be very notable. He believes that installing the technology in a park or other public open space would allow people to begin enjoying the space once again.

Daan, through his design company Studio Roosegaarde, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the mayor of Beijing to use the idea in a new park being developed in the city. Once people have a clear, visible example of how bad the smog is, it might be easier to gather support to make the necessary changes.

Daan, explained that once turned on, the coils would create an electrostatic charge in the air that literally pulls the smog down to the ground, where it would form a layer to then be cleaned up. It would work very similar to rubbing a balloon across a surface and watching it as it attracts fluff and hair due to the generated static.

Roosegaarde Smog

Working at the University of Delft, the Netherlands, Daan has already created and successfully tested a working prototype of his design.

Related article: Chinese State Official Blames Beijing’s Smog on Cooking Fumes

“We have a 5x5 metre room full of smog where we created a smog-free hole of one cubic metre. And now the question is to apply it in public spaces.

It's a similar principle to if you have a statically charged balloon that attracts your hair. If you apply that to smog, to create fields of static electricity of ions, which literally attract or magnetise the smog so it drops down so you can clean it, like an electronic vacuum cleaner.”

For those of you worried about the health implications of walking into such a large electrostatic field, Daan claims that it’s pacemaker-safe as the field is actually very low.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com


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