Can a giant vacuum clear up China's smog problem?
Monday, May 26, 2014, 4:46 PM - Artist Daan Roosegaarde says that a giant electric vacuum cleaner could help clear the air in China.
Thick smog and poor air quality are persistent problems in parts of China -- particularly in the city of Beijing. In February 2013, Chinese officials scrambled to impose emergency measures that would rid the city of a "super smog" that blanketed the region for the better part of a month, causing delays and cancellations for hundreds of flights due to poor visibility.
The city's air quality index regularly exceeds 500 micrograms per cubic metre of particulate matter (PM2.5) -- 25 times The World Health Organization's maximum daily recommendation of 20 micrograms.
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According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, levels higher than 300 micrograms per cubic meter are considered "hazardous."
Beijing authorities have announced their plans combat the rising smog by ordering tens of thousands of older cars off the road while fast-tracking an initiative to grow as many trees as possible within the next five years.
The SMOG project yet another player in the campaign to clean up China's air.
Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde is the brainchild behind the proposal, which aims to create giant electric vacuum cleaners that remove dangerous particulates from the atmosphere, creating pockets of clean air.
He may be on to something.
Wired reports that buckthorn plants in the Netherlands work in a similar manner by removing sand and dust particles from the air.
Roosegaarde used the plant as a source of inspiration when he teamed up with Bob Urserm of the Delft University of Technology to bring the SMOG project to life.
The vacuum would use buried copper coils to create a low-amp, high-voltage electrostatic field that draws smog particles to the ground, where are collected.
Roosegaarde will spend the remainder of the year working out the details of the $2.4 billion project, and he's working with Beijing city officials to have the first smog-free park installed in the city.
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In the meantime Roosegaarde has invited the public to help fund the project by purchasing a Smog Ring made of compressed smog particles.
The pieces are made by sucking polluted air out of the atmosphere which is then compressed to make a 'smog stone'.
The stones are set in a ring made from locally-sourced materials.
Each piece removes approximately 1 cubic kilometre of pollution from the air.