An Amazing Giant Smog Free Tower Purifies the Air in Xian in China

In China, demand for bottled air has never been stronger. It is most popular in the polluted cities of Beijing and Shanghai. However, we had a recent large weekly order from the northern city Xian, in Shaanxi province. This prompted us to do some further research on Google.

Pollution is so bad that they have been forced to try out a radical new approach. Designed by the Dutch, a strange new building has recently appeared on the Chinese skyline.

It isn't yet another enormous factory belching filthy, toxic fumes into the atmosphere. It isn’t a giant apartment block. No … Soaring into the sky at a height of over 300 feet, this Chinese city now boasts what is probably the world’s largest air purifier … The Smog Free Tower.

This tower is designed to improve air quality at a local level. In this city, pollution levels regularly exceed W.H.O. guidelines. A few years ago, the same Dutch team invented a much smaller piece of kit to the Xian design. This now resides in Beijing.

Giant Air Purifier in Xian

The new 300 foot “Smog Tower” in Xian took between 2 to 3 years to complete. They are now testing, tweaking and measuring are results. Initial data is very encouraging.Positive affects have been felt over an area of up to 4 square miles.

On days where pollution is at its worst, this tall new tower is already able to reduce the smog to what scientists claim are “moderate levels”.

And there’s more:

If it finally proves as successful, plans are already afoot to build even larger versions across the major cities of China. These would reach heights of over 500 feet. Some are even hoping to be able to construct massive, towers around five times larger.

They expect a full assessment of the smaller 300 foot Xian tower’s performance later this year. The Dutch design team leader says that areas with the 500 foot towers could be up to 75% cleaner than the rest of the city. These anti-smog purifiers would initially target areas such as parks, schools and playgrounds.

How Does It Work?

It’s a very clever system. And although the actual cost has not been announced, clearly the Chinese feel it is well worth it.

The whole system for a 300-foot tower covers an area roughly half the size of an English football field. It has greenhouses around the base of the tower.

Polluted air is drawn into the greenhouses. Here, it is heated up and the hot air then rises through the tower. On its way it up, it passes through a series of ever smaller nano cleaning filters. Then the much cleaner air is released high into the atmosphere.

A local spokesman said that the 300-foot tower in Xian required very little power to run...“In fact”, he said, “it barely requires any external power input throughout daylight hours,”.

China skyline smog

Here’s the best bit:

Costs are kept to a minimum with electrical power for the heating process largely supplied by special, ultra-efficient solar panels. These appear to work really well throughout the year and they even function well in winter. This is when sunlight levels are quite low. This is just as well perhaps because the average temp in winter hovers around freezing point. It is during these cold, winter months that pollution levels are highest. This is because the city’s heating system still largely relies on coal.

The 300 foot Xian tower experiment is similar in design to a precursor, the much smaller “Smog Free Project” undertaken three years ago. This again was the brainchild of Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde who the Chinese had brought in to look at ways of purifying Beijing’s air. It was built at the curiously named “798”, a creative park in Beijing.

This much smaller tower was a mere 23-feet tall but also consisted of two parts. First, the seven-metre-tall tower sucked up the city’s polluted air. It went on to cleanse the air at a nano-level. 

Second, wait for this … the carbon from smog particles was turned into diamonds. Curiously there seems to be very little information on how that process worked.

Not forgetting:

China’s share of the global emissions mix jumped from 5.7% in 1973 to 28.1% in 2016. This was due largely to its unrivalled appetite for coal. According to the latest Key World Energy Statistics report by the International Energy Agency, China was still the world's largest producer and importer of coal in 2016.

And while China was not among the 20 countries that agreed to phase out coal by 2030 at last year’s COP23 climate talks, it is clearly attempting to reduce its carbon footprint.

For example, China recently announced it would scrap plans to build 85 coal-fired plants. And last year the country introduced anti-pollution measures across 28 cities. The plan, which includes curbing production in heavy industries, is designed to cut PM2.5 concentrations by at least 15% year-on-year.

China has nevertheless increased its investment in clean energy, from $7.5 billion in 2005 to more than $101 billion a decade later. In comparison, the European Union invested only $39.9 billion in clean energy in 2015. This, by the way, is in addition to the $44 billion that China spent on overseas clean energy projects last year.

And of course…

It goes without saying that Coast Capture hugely applauds any steps to improve the quality of the air we breathe. However, whether in China or London or anywhere else in the world, these major projects, unfortunately, take time, money and an awful lot of political clout and goodwill to get them off the ground.

Perhaps we need to act on a local or even an individual level.

Maybe the recent series of "strikes" by thousands of banner-waving UK school children to raise awareness of the dangers of global warming will help. They have done a great job - It was all over the UK media.

Maybe the much-publicised, hugely increased demand for freshly bottled UK air in China will make luckier people in clean air zones start to sit up and think.

In the great scheme of things, Coast Capture Air and our fellow air-farming bloggers can only do our best to fulfil a clear and ever-growing demand for freshly bottled air in polluted corners of the world.

Like the competitors, our main raison-d'etre is to raise awareness. Filthy air is a huge problem. Let’s hope that our small but not insignificant efforts, like those of the banner-waving kids, might influence others to take action before it is too late.

As always, we love to hear your feedback, let us have your thoughts in the Comments section below

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Sally LandsComment