With the PM2.5 spiking up above 400 (groan), it looks like the brief but beautiful autumn weather might be over in Beijing. Residents strapped on their masks and dusted-off their air purifiers this week, as a thick, yellow blanket of smog descended on the city. And this is only the beginning: winter is the worst time for Beijing air quality.
Breathing Beijing’s filthy air is enough to send any scientist to the drawing-board, and with the government’s willingness to fund, several inventors have come up with pretty wacky projects to tackle the problem. Here are some of the strangest ideas on offer:
1. Skyscraper Showers
Geoengineering researcher Shaocai Yu proposed placing giant shower sprinklers on top of skyscrapers to wash away pollution. These sprinklers would mimic the way rain lowers pollution levels, especially for smog hanging at 300-foot.
2. Pollution Glue
Another solution is to spray a sticky dust-suppressant onto roads, which traps the smog particles so they don’t float into people’s lungs. This substance, both non-toxic and biodegradable, was tested in London in 2012 to combat their dastardly pollution problem. Studies showed that it reduced PM-10 by 10 to 14 percent.
3. Diamond-creating Smog Vacuums
A girl’s best friend just got more environmentally friendly. Dutch artist Daan Roosegaard designed a small-scale smog vacuum-cleaner that takes carbon from smog particles and compresses them into diamonds, yes diamonds!. This machine uses positive-ionization to suck the smog out of the air around it, effectively creating a clean air bubble around the machine.
4. Fog Cannons
This last May, Xi’an released trucks armed with “Fog Cannons”–gigantic water blowers that release fine fog particles into the air to weigh down smog particles above 10 micrometers. These cannons can shoot water up to 100 meters, and reduce fog for an hour, for every ton of water used. According to the local environmental authorities, the “Fog Cannon” can reduce PM2.5 concentration by 15 to 20 percent.
5. Smog-Sucking Drones
The Chinese government currently uses a slightly more robotic-solution: drones that spray anti-pollution chemicals into the atmosphere. Let’s just hope that the government’s last botched idea, spraying liquid nitrogen to “freeze” particles, isn’t being considered.
Unfortunately, even these short term solutions aren’t likely to prevent the impending airpocalypse. If you don’t already have one, make sure to grab a mask before going outside this week–apparently China’s pollution shaves of a solid 5.5 years off of your life. Ouch.
Images Courtesy of Link Springer, Rosegaard Studios, Flickr