Smog-Sucking Vacuum Eases Pollution, Creates Jewellery

A new public structure just opened in the forward-thinking European city of Rotterdam is being described as a vacuum cleaner for the air. The remarkable air purifier is 23 feet tall and can clean 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour while utilizing just 1,400 Watts of electricity – about the same as a water boiler. The installation is just the first step in its designer’s proposed worldwide Smog Free Movement and has already attracted over $90,000 in crowdfunded investment thanks to an innovative product: smog jewellery.

Smog-filtering vacuum: this tower, now installed in a Rotterdam park, can filter 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour. Image from Studio Roosegaarde.Smog-filtering vacuum: this tower, now installed in a Rotterdam park, can filter 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour. Image from Studio Roosegaarde.

Rotterdam is known for being a city open to the sort of new and radical ideas that promise to drive our planet toward a sustainable future. We’ve already discussed their potential early adoption of plastic roads and this latest erection follows in the same vein.  Designed by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and his team at Studio Roosegaarde, the tower relies on technology already employed for air purification in hospitals and thus known to be safe. Roosegaarde simply redeveloped it on a massive scale for the purification of public outdoor spaces. He then took advantage of a patented low-energy ionization technology to ensure that the power required to run the system did not counteract its beneficial effects.

After three years of extensive testing with models and prototypes, the first tower was finally brought to fruition in Rotterdam this week. The hexagonal structure sucks polluted air in at the top and releases filtered air through vents on the six sides. And unlike what one might envision when faced with the description “giant smog-sucking vacuum”, the tower is quite attractive; it is even illuminated by LEDs after dark. Says Roosegaarde, “I love to create interactive designs that explore the dynamic relation between people, technology and space together with my team of designers and engineers.”

The team launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the initial installation and, after meeting with extraordinary success, now hopes to bring the smog vacuums to other major pollution centers around the world including Beijing, Mexico City, Paris and Los Angeles. In an effort to fund the project now and into the future, the team has created an absolutely unique incentive: smog jewellery. Something needed to be done with the massive volume of smog particles collected and the design team quickly realized they could be upcycled through compression into stylish items like rings and cufflinks, the sale of which will finance further installations. Purchasers of the products get the dual benefit of attractive accessories and knowing that they are helping in the fight against air pollution. The kickstarter campaign is currently more than $33,000 over its stated goal of $56,360 (€50,000).

Smog ring: talk about making the best of a bad situation. The towers convert environmental pollution to beautiful jewellery. Image from Studio Roosegaarde.Smog ring: talk about making the best of a bad situation. The towers convert environmental pollution to beautiful jewellery. Image from Studio Roosegaarde.

There is clearly a strong public appetite to clean up public spaces. Indeed, cleaner air is the ultimate democratic goal, benefiting rich and poor alike. The Smog Free Movement has arrived!

To contribute, check out this video and then visit the Smog Free Tower kickstarter page.