While cities in the United States have made significant strides in cleaning up their air quality over the last 40 years, it remains a massive and growing problem in China. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, most industry in the city was shut down just to keep the smog levels in check. Now a Dutch designer says that he's come up with a system that can literally pluck smog particles out of the air.
Daan Roosgaarde says that Tesla coils buried just under the surface of the Earth could be used to create an electrostatic field that attracts smog particles, sort of like an electronic vacuum cleaner. Working with scientists at the University of Delft in The Netherlands, Roosegaarde says they were able to clear a one cubic meter area of smog in a five cubic meter room. He says that the electrostatic field creates a shaft of clear air extending up from the top of the coil. The smog particles fall to the ground where they can be collected.
Roosegaarde has reached a deal with the mayor of Beijing to install a system in a city park to showcase the technology. While he concedes that it would be impractical to clear the air of an entire city this way, he hopes that creating clear zones will show people just how filthy the air is everywhere else, and engage them to push for more permanent clean air solutions.