Apr. 18 - A Dutch designer plans to suck smog from Beijing's polluted air with his 'electronic vacuum cleaner' next year and produce sparkling jewellery from the smog particles he collects. It may be an unconventional approach to Beijing's pollution problem but the city's leaders have told Daan Roosegarde he's welcome to try it. Debi Bell-Hosking reports.
It's a small scale model for now, but the industrial version of the world's largest electronic vacuum cleaner, could be the answer to Beijing's air pollution problem. It's designed simply to to suck smog out of the air, and designer Daan Roosegaarde says he's reached an agreement with Beijing's leaders to test his prototype in a city park next year. Roosegarde says it's simple physics in action. Copper coils buried underground generate an electromagnetic field that attracts smog particles and leaves clean, breathable air behind. (SOUNDBITE) (English), ARTIST AND DESIGNER, DAAN ROOSEGAARDE, SAYING: "By creating a field of ions, all the particles on the nano scale get positively charged, therefore when the ground is negatively charged, you can drag them to the ground, and purify the air - 75 percent, 80 percent more clean." And there are few cities in the world in need of cleaner air than Beijing. Decades of unrestrained growth have produced an air pollution crisis that city leaders have struggled to address. Roosegaarde says his technology can help, by producing corridors of clean air that allow the sunlight to shine through. He says the version he has planned for Beijing should have a cleaning diameter of about 50 metres which should produce results almost immediately. But Roosegaarde is not stopping there. He's taking his plan one step further. Rather than waste all that smog, he wants to turn it into jewellery. (SOUNDBITE) (English), ARTIST AND DESIGNER, DAAN ROOSEGAARDE, SAYING: "We started to look at the smog particles and realised that most of it exists out of carbon. And what happens when you put carbon under a lot of pressure for two or three weeks, you get diamonds. And by sharing or selling a diamond ring like that, a smog ring, you donate a thousand cubic meter of clean air to the city of Beijing." And for Roosegaard that's a powerful symbol...an example he says of how the trash of one person can be the treasure of another.