Humans have created unbelievable technology that facilitates our daily lives. Many inventions have been enhancements, yes, but they’ve also come with deadly side effects. For instance, the car was invented to liberate us, but now it is harming us. The pollution they cause is horrible. Air in high-density cities is so polluted it’s shortening its inhabitants’ lifespans by 15-16 years. So Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch artist-turned-entrepreneur, designed the Smog Free Tower that turns pollution into diamonds.
Whether or not you can see it, the pollution is there and the impact it has on our health is very real. Daan says, “The air that we all breathe in at major cities across the world, whether it’s London or Beijing, Paris or Delhi, it’s the same as 17 cigarettes per day”. It so bad, 8-year-olds are being diagnosed with lung cancer. “This is not the bright future we envision,” Roosegaarde says. “This is the horror.”
That is why he and his team built the largest air purifier in the world – The Smog Free Tower. With this project he combines high-tech science, design and imagination, to provide people with smog-free air zones in the largest and most polluted cities around the world. This creation allows people to breathe and experience what clean air in a city really means.
“It’s all about connecting new technology with creative thinking,” says Roosegaarde. “If you start thinking about that, there is so much you can imagine, so much more you can do.”
The first one to be constructed was in Beijing China; where residents had been advised (back in 2013) to avoid outdoor activities as air quality was 30 times above the level judged safe by the World Health Organisation. To give the residents a safe-air zone, the tower is located in a public park, standing spotlight in the center, a whole 7 meters tall.
It sucks up 30,000 cubic meters of polluted air per hour, cleans it at the nano level — the PM2.5, PM10 particles — and then releases the clean air back into the city. It is so effective that the air around the tower is 55 to 75 percent cleaner than the rest of the city.
The Smog Free Tower uses a mere 1,170 watts of green electricity (powered by solar energy) and positive ionisation technology. It is the first air purifier of its kind ever built.
“By charging the Smog Free Tower with a small positive current, an electrode will send positive ions into the air. These ions will attach themselves to fine dust particles. A negatively charged surface — the counter electrode — will then draw the positive ions in, together with the fine dust particles. The fine dust that would normally harm us, is collected together with the ions and stored inside of the tower. This technology manages to capture ultra-fine smog particles which regular filter systems fail to do.”
They even convert the waste collected from the air pollution to make a Smog Free jewelry line. “The tower sucks in pollution from its surroundings and pushes out clean air after filtration; inside, it collects the filtered smog particles…It’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever smelled,” says Daan. “It’s like death in powder form. Just think about it, that stuff would be inside your body.” He realized that filtered smog is nearly 40 per cent carbon, which is the same substance that diamonds are made of, so why not make diamonds?
Each diamond contains compressed smog from 1,000 m3 of clean air. The smog particles filtered by the tower are compressed for 30 minutes whereupon they turn into dark, boxy gems. Daan is so brilliant he managed to create something beautiful and desirable from a waste product. He has turned dirty air into objects to treasure. These gems are the ultimate waste-to-wonder conversion – toxic pollution transformed into gemstones. The money from sales of the jewelry goes to help fund the expansion of smog-free towers.
Interestingly enough, he admits in an interview: “I knew nothing. In fact, I was even a smoker! But you don’t need to know about your topic when you start out,” he says. “If you have a natural curiosity for something, then that becomes an obsession and you keep learning more along the way. In fact, your obsession motivates you to learn more quickly.”
Daan goes further to explain, “Try imagining yourself as one of those machines that serves tennis balls. You throw proposals out into the world, one after another, and see which ones get a reaction and get hit back. Validation of some of our wildest ideas was key to knowing what to explore further.”
The profit of the SMOG FREE RING sales is used to develop more smog-free solutions. People all over the world are buying them because they are beautiful. Wearing one is a symbol that you are part of something greater. If you’d like to purchase one click here.
To know more about the tower and Daan Roosegaarde’s other innovative projects, watch his inspirational TED Talk: