The central government has just approved the construction of a complex in the Huairou district of Beijing that will pump out artificial smog and allow scientists to research new tactics to tackle air pollution. The size of the proposed project will rival the European Photoreactor, Europhe, currently the world’s largest atmospheric simulation facility.
South China Morning Post reports that the “smog chamber” was approved by the National Development and Reform Commission and construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 or sooner as “the government is losing patience in the battle against smog and is pushing scientists for results”.
The chamber will pump different mixtures of pollutants into separate vessels, where researchers will be able to study and compare their chemical reactions under sunlight.
Professor He Hong, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the lead scientist of the project, said that when completed the Huairou smog chamber would be the largest in the world. The Chinese chamber will be able to use 600 cubic metres of polluted air for tests – exceeding Euphore’s capacity by 50 per cent.
Professor He stressed this was not for bragging rights, but for science. “Size matters. The larger a smog chamber, the smaller the ‘wall effect’,” he said, referring to the negative impact of a limited physical enclosure on simulation and data quality.
The smog chamber, a project long hoped for by scientists, features two hemispherical vessels that can create conditions similar to smog.
The central government agreed to grant the project more than five hectares of land – about the size of seven soccer fields – in the Huairou district of Beijing, and 500 million yuan (HK$633 million) in funding.
“We are under a lot of pressure to provide immediate answers and solutions, but scientific research takes time, and some sophisticated problems cannot be solved overnight,” He was quoted as saying. “I hope people can understand and give us some time.”
The Post reports that scientists from top research institutes in Beijing and Shanghai have been mobilized to look into the issue with urgency and help make a “historic contribution” to the war on air pollution as the problem has reached “an unbearable stage“.
This week, the National Meteorological Center issued a yellow alert—the second highest—for heavy smog that’s persisted several days and has come to be dubbed a “Nuclear Winter“.
“The budget is so big that money will never be a problem,” one researcher told the Post. “If an issue can be solved by money, it is relatively easy. Unfortunately, it does not apply to smog.”
Previously on Shanghaiist:
Photo of the day: China’s smoggiest wedding
We couldn’t be less optimistic about this man trying to sue the government over smog
Photo of the Day: The result of a semi-nude run in a smog-smothered Beijing