The Smog Free Project: Fighting Pollution with Jewels

No matter the season, there is nothing better than blue skies. Be it crisp, light blue skies in the chill of winter or the inviting blue of a summer day…the sky is a almost always a pretty spectacle to behold. But nothing ruins that happy-go-lucky, nothing-but-blue-skies feeling like a healthy dose of 21st-century pollution. Call me crazy, but the “what does that cloud look like?” game seems a lot more grim when instead you are trying to decide what shape smog has taken. Spoiler alert: it’s respiratory irritation and the kind of cough that just won’t quit.

Not surprisingly, I am not the only one who has taken issue with a pollution-filled atmosphere. One of the most innovative initiatives that has come from this unfortunate dilemma is the “Smog Free Project”.

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The Smog Free Project is a project in the works thanks to the dedication of Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde and Studio Roosegarde, his team of expert helpers. In a video on his studio’s webpage, Roosegaarde claims he is fascinated by the landscapes of the future…and one day, he woke up with a fascination for pollution. His fascination stems from the notion that pollution seems like it is accepted within today’s society…when in reality, it shouldn’t be. The influence that pollution has on today and tomorrow’s environment cannot be understated.

Roosegaarde’s forward-thinking attitude has led him to work on the development of technology that will work to capture pollution. I think I know what you’re thinking. If you’re anything like me, you are thinking wait, what? How is that even possible? The project will be in the form of a safe, energy-friendly tower AKA the world’s largest air purifier. The project will use patented ion technology, Roosegaarde explains:

“It’s a similar principle to if you have a statically charged balloon that attracts your hair. If you apply that to smog, to create fields of static electricity of ions, which literally attract or magnetize the smog so it drops down so you can clean it, like an electronic vacuum cleaner.

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. The great thing about the technology is that it’s safe. It’s already being used in hospitals and it’s very energy friendly, so to have 30,000 cubic metres of clean air purified, it only uses like 30 Watts, which is like a light bulb.”

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The project plans to find a home in Rotterdam, Beijing, Mumbai and Paris. Bejing has already dedicated a substantial amount of money to a plan aiming to have their city be smog free by 2017, and this project is a prime example of that plan in action.

And what better way to bring attention to an issue (or anything really) than with sparkle? You would think that fighting the evils of the world in the form of a smog sucking vacuum would be enough, but Roosegaarde Studio doesn’t stop there – they go further to attempt to turn smog into something desirable.

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The air-purifying tower that the group has dreamt up will turn smog into jewelry. Collected filtered smog particles will be compressed into cubes and mounted on pieces such as rings and cuff links. Each ring represents the cleaning of 1km3 of polluted air. While this intensive project may not be a means for ending pollution, Roosegaarde sees it as an avenue by which they can bring attention to the problem at hand:

“Making tangible and wearable materials of the smog is a way of creating awareness. By buying or sharing the smog ring you donate 1,000 cubic meters of clean air to the city.

By creating the cleanest park in Beijing, you can create an experience of how the future will look, what it will feel like. People will see all the differences in between the old and new air. They can feel it, smell it, and breathe it. This will create an incentive to update the whole city such as electric cars, clean industry, cycling. Our project stands as a springboard for other initiatives, to update reality. “

According to the studio, the first Smog Free Tower will be released to the world in September 2015 in Rotterdam.

To me, Roosegaarde seems like an environmentally friendly superhero, swooping in to save us all from a future of smog infested skies, angry lungs and unavoidable coughing. Whatta guy. And like most superheroes, Roosegaarde has some swoon-worthy qualities. I mean, I can’t testify for the guy’s abs…but turning smog into jewels?! That’s a super power I can stand behind…

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