Radical technique for pulling particulate out of the air to be tested in China

1 November 2013

Smog is a serious problem in China. Last month it caused the near shut-down of Harbin, a city of 11 million, closing schools, bus routes and the airport.

Now, the capital city Beijing is keen to try a radical solution – a new technique that promises literally to suck polluting particulate out of the air and into the ground.

It’s the brainchild of Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde, who is developing a system that uses buried copper coils to make an electrostatic field which attracts smog particles, creating voids of precious clean air above.

"You can purify the air so you can breathe again," Roosegaarde told Dezeen during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven. "It creates these holes of 50-60 metres of clean air so you can see the sun again."

Roosegaarde’s company Studio Roosegaarde has signed a memorandum of understanding with the mayor of Beijing to create a public park to showcase the technology, Dezeen reports.

Beijing under heavy smog on 5 June this year. The capital is suffering a 60-year record number of smoggy days, according to the National Climate Center (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Working with scientists at the University of Delft, Roosegaarde created a working prototype of the project last week - a 5×5-metre room full of smog in which the system created a "smog-free hole" measuring one cubic metre.

The question to be answered is, will it work in open spaces?

How it works

Dezeen reports that the buried copper coils produce a weak electrostatic field in the air above, drawing the smog particles and trapping them in the ground.

"It’s a similar principle to if you have a statically charged balloon that attracts your hair," Roosegaarde told Dezeen.

Roosegaarde’s team will now spend up to 18 months developing the technology before starting work on the ground in Beijing.

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