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Pollution Hacks: Smog Towers, Mist Cannons & Air-Purifying Cement

The future is here: designers are coming up with attractive ways of dealing with an ugly air pollution problem.

Published
Environment
3 min read
Pollution Hacks: Smog Towers, Mist Cannons & Air-Purifying Cement

Every year, air pollution is estimated to be responsible for a horrifying 7 million premature deaths. By many estimates, this number is only set to rise as our urban populations spiral. As the winter smog chokes Indian cities again, we take a look at some of the most innovative pollution fighting measures from around the world.

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Smog Free Towers and Jewellery

Sitting by this tower is a breath of fresh air. (Image: Youtube Screengrab)
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Created by the Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde, the Smog Free Tower is a 21 feet high tower that removes particulate matter from air. The tower essentially works as a giant vacuum cleaner and Roosegaarde claims that it cleans 30,000 cubic metres of air in an hour. Sound interesting? It is! The designer has also figured out a way to compress the captured particulate matter into tiny gemstones that can be used for jewellery.

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Mist Cannons

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Originally created to remove dust in factories and protect workers from respiratory problems, mist cannons have been used in China to counter air pollution. The cannons convert liquid water into a fine mist which is then sprayed into the air. On contact with particulate matter, the mist forms into drops of water which falls to the ground. The cannons are mobile and can be moved around the city but its effectiveness has been questioned.

Watch a video of the cannons in action here:

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Pollution-Cleaning Posters and Catalytic Clothing

“In Praise of Air” is giant poem printed on a poster coated with nanomaterials which purify air. Created at the University of Sheffield, the poster works on the principle of photocatalysis and uses sunlight and oxygen to break down pollutants in the air. Catalytic Clothing works on the same principle. Its creators, designer Helen Storey and Professor Ryan say that two pairs of jeans could clean up the nitrogen dioxide emissions from one car.

The University of Sheffield is finding creative ways of dealing with air pollution. (Image Courtesy: University of Sheffield)
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Air-Purifying Cement

This special “biodynamic“ cement reacts with certain pollutants and removes them from the air. It has been created by the cement firm Italcementi . The cement was used to cover 9000 square metres of the Palazzo Italia in Milan for the Milan Expo in 2015. Italcementi claims that 80% of the cement was created from recycled materials.

Imagine if all our buildings were designed to take carbon out of the air. (Image Courtesy: Nemesi and Partners)
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While these are innovative and pathbreaking, it’s worthwhile to remember that pollution control requires changes based on a holistic plan for the future of our cities. Stop gap measures can treat the symptoms, but to truly resolve the issue we need to address the root causes for the pollution in our cities.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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