Air Scrubbing Tower Fights City Pollution

A Dutch design studio hopes to create fresh air "bubbles" in urban environments.

It's always nice when art meets technology in interesting ways. Case-in-point: Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde is working with environmental agencies to showcase a thought-provoking air filter tower in major cities around the world.

The tower is part of the larger Smog Free Project, in which supporters can donate to the clean air cause by purchasing some rather pretty jewelry, also designed by Roosegaarde and his team.

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Loyal readers may recall Roosegaarde Studios -- they're the folks that designed a line of apparel called Intimacy 2.0 that becomes transparent with each accelerating heartbeat. Clearly, these people have excellent ideas.

The anti-smog tower is essentially a giant air scrubber designed to create a bubble of clean air in otherwise polluted city environments. The idea is to put the tower in parks and other public gathering spaces. The Roosegaarde team is calling the seven-meter-high tower the largest air purifier in the world.

The tower first went up in Rotterdam last year. This week, the team announced plans to move the tower to Beijing, China, in the fall. Roosegaarde Studios is working directly with Chinese environmental agencies and plans to move the tower around to five more Chinese cities in the next couple of years. There are also plans to take the tower to Mexico City, Paris and Los Angeles.

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The second element of the smog free project is a line of jewelry made with the actual residue of collected smog from the tower. The tiny cubes of carbon are compressed into clear plastic and can be purchased as rings, cuff links or standalone coffee-table conversation starters.

Roosegaarde Studios says that each piece of jewelry contributes to the purifying of 1,000 cubic meter of polluted air. The tower, meanwhile, cleans 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour and runs on wind energy, according to designers. There's not much detail on how the tower actually works, but reports have likened it to air scrubber systems used in hospitals. Watch a video below to see the tower in action.