Beijing and the rest of China may be able to continue pouring chemicals and particulate matter into the country’s air, but without the staggering health and aesthetic costs, if these massive air-vacuums ever reach production. Gigantic smog-sucking ionizers, strategically placed throughout major cities, may be China’s best hope for clean air without, well, making traffic and factories illegal.
The devices were designed by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, and featured in the Scientific American. The “vacuum cleaners” would function similarly to small, apartment-use air cleaners, but on a massive scale:
[The device] uses high-voltage, low-amp electricity to create an electrostatic field. Particles flowing across the field—enclosed in a box—become positively charged and attach themselves to a grounded electrode, which need to be scraped clean periodically. […]
Plans for the Beijing device center on a large octagonal structure eight meters tall with intake vents at the top and exhaust vents in the middle, out of which will flow smog-free air. The steel structure will weigh about nine metric tons. To demonstrate the absence of smog in the freshair zone, lasers will shoot out beams, which will be invisible in a particle-free environment.
It has clean air, a cool design, and lasers. We can’t wait to see if this device ever goes into use although (for a large number of reasons) don’t hold your breath.