A Dutch team of designers and engineers have built a 23 feet tall air purifier they say is being considered for commercial use in China, whose major cities have massive air pollution and smog problems.
The tower, simply called the Smog Free Tower, sucks in and cleans 1 million cubic feet of polluted air an hour, while using as much electricity as an ordinary household water boiler. The tower is currently being tested in a popular park in Rotterdam.
Team leader and owner of Rotterdam design firm Studio Roosegaarde, Daan Roosegaarde says he began working on outdoor air purification after a “particularly smoggy” 2013 trip to China.
“I think everybody on planet earth should have the right to clear air. It’s weird that we accept pollution as standard,” he says.
Dutch manufacturer Environmental Nano Solutions Europe and researcher Bob Ursem helped develop the tower. Roosegaarde says he’s invested the cash equivalent of a high-end BMW to build the tower, along with about $130,000 from Kickstarter backers.
Air is sucked into the prototype tower, inside which an internal electrode puts out ions that impart a positive charge to fine dust particles. A negatively charged counter-electrode draws in the dust particle. He says tests show that air within 80 feet of the tower is 75 percent cleaner that in the rest of the city.
Roosegaarde says he is currently in talks with possible commercial partners, some in China, but professor of global and environmental health at Duke University,Jim Zhang, says the intended outside use for Smog Free Tower may not be what the commercial target should be.
He says the idea is novel and the principle sound, but that, aside from questions of cost, the tower could be impractical in less-than-ideal weather. “It will probably only work when the outdoor air is very steady,” Zhang says. “If it’s windy, it’s going to be diluted very quickly.”
Zhang instead suggested that use in temporary inside buildings like pop up shops or large tents may be a possible market.