Smog Free Tower

Dr. S. S. VERMA; Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal; Distt.- Sangrur (Punjab)

2015-12-14 11:19:59



Smog and its formation

Rapid rise in air pollution all over the places in general and in cities in particular has worsened smog occurrence and extended its duration. Smog is basically derived from the merging of two words; smoke and fog. Smog is also used to describe the type of fog which has smoke or soot in it. Smog is a yellowish or blackish fog formed mainly by a mixture of pollutants in the atmosphere which consists of fine particles and ground level ozone. Smog which occurs mainly because of air pollution can also be defined as a mixture of various gases with dust and water vapor. Smog also refers to hazy air that makes breathing difficult. The atmospheric pollutants or gases that form smog are released in the air when fuels are burnt. When sunlight and its heat react with these gases and fine particles in the atmosphere, smog is formed. It is purely caused by air pollution. Ground level ozone and fine particles are released in the air due to complex photochemical reactions between volatile organic compounds (VOC), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). These VOC, SO2and NOx are called precursors. The main sources of these precursors are pollutants released directly into the air by gasoline and diesel-run vehicles, industrial plants and activities, and heating due to human activities.

Smog is often caused by heavy traffic, high temperatures, sunshine and calm winds. These are few of the factors behind increasing level of air pollution in atmosphere. During the winter months when the wind speeds are low, it helps the smoke and fog to become stagnate at a place forming smog and increasing pollution levels near the ground closer to where people are respiring. It hampers visibility and disturbs the environment. The time that smog takes to form depends directly on the temperature. Temperature inversions are situations when warm air does not rise instead stays near the ground. During situations of temperature inversions if the wind is calm, smog may get trapped and remain over a place for days. But it is also true that smog is more severe when it occurs farther away from the sources of release of pollutants. This is because the photo chemical reactions that cause smog take place in the air when the released pollutants from heavy traffic drift due to the wind. Smog can thus affect and prove to be dangerous for suburbs, rural areas as well as urban areas or large cities. Smog is a devastating problem especially due to the fast modernization or industrialization as the hazardous chemicals involved in smog formation are highly reactive is spread around in the atmosphere.

Effects of Smog

When a city or town gets covered in smog, the effects are felt immediately. Smog is harmful and it is evident from the components that form it and effects that can happen from it. It is harmful to humans, animals, plants and the nature as a whole. The human body faces great difficulty in defending itself against the harmful effects of smog. Many people deaths were recorded, notably those relating to bronchial diseases. The highly affected people include old people, kids and those with cardiac and respiratory complications as they have easy tendency to be at disadvantage of asthma.

  •  Heavy smog is responsible for decreasing the UV radiation greatly which results in a low production of the crucial natural element                  vitamin D leading to cases of rickets among people
  • Smog can be responsible for any ailment from minor pains to deadly pulmonary diseases such as lung cancer
  •  Smog is well known for causing irritation in the eye
  •  It may also result in inflammation in the tissues of lungs; giving rise to pain in the chest
  • Other issues or illnesses such as cold and pneumonia are also related to smog
  •  Minor exposure to smog can lead to greater threats of asthma attacks; people suffering from asthma problems must avoid exposure
  • Smog also causes pre-mature deaths and affects densely populated areas building it up to dangerous levels
  • The ground level ozone present in the smog also inhibits plant growth and causes immense damage to crops and forests
  • Crops, vegetables like soybeans, wheat, tomatoes, peanuts, and cotton are subject to infection when they are exposed to smog
  • The smog results in mortifying impacts on environment by killing innumerable animal species and green life as these take time to adapt to breathing and surviving in such toxic environments

Controlling smog

We all know about the concepts like less cars, clean technologies, more bicycling, etc. but somehow we are still stuck in this polluted situation. It can be reduced by implementing modifications in present day lifestyle, i.e., by decreasing the consumption of non-renewable fuels by replacing them with alternate sources of fuel which will reduce toxic emissions from vehicles. Instead of vigorous efforts and debates, occurrence of smog is not stopping and everybody is looking towards other to make his/her activities environmental friendly but without much success. Therefore, methods to remove smog creating pollutants along with stopping the activities to produce these pollutants should be looked into in order to control the smog for a livable environment. Dutch Artist Daan Roosegaarde has come up with an idea of smog free tower. The device extracting this pollution powder has been named a Smog Free Tower which is a 23-foot-tall air purification system at present with a cost of $54,000 meant to clean up parks and other public spaces. The seven-meter-tall tower runs on green energy and cleans 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour of ultra-fine smog to create smog-free bubbles in public spaces.

The technology powering the Smog Free Tower is based on air-purification systems in hospitals often use to clean air—attracting particles of pollution through static electricity—but on a larger scale. The Smog Free tower cleans the air by sucking in smog from the top and releasing filtered air through its six-sided vents. By charging the Smog Free Tower with a small positive current, an electrode will send positive ions into the air. These ions will attach themselves to fine dust particles. A negatively charged surface—the counter electrode—will then draw the positive ions in, together with the fine dust particles. The fine dust that would normally harm us is collected together with the ions and stored inside of the tower. This technology manages to capture ultra-fine smog particles which regular filter systems fail to do.

After the tower collects piles of black powder, the designers will turn it into rings. Diamonds take too much energy to produce so, instead, the designers will make simple square rings with a cube of compressed pollution. Every ring holds as much smog as 1,000 cubic meters of city air.

As people visit the tower, it's designed to be a place to talk about how to make the larger changes that are necessary to prevent air pollution in the first place. Pollution particles contributing to smog are mostly made up of carbon therefore once smog is sucked out of the air, Roosegaarde decided to compress them into jewelry in a nod to diamond. The tower will produce 3,500 smog cubes per day if it's in an area with a lot of air pollution, and each one of the cubes cleans over 35,000 cubic feet of air — ideally translating to nearly 123 million cubic feet of clean air per day. The giant smog-sucking vacuum cleaner runs on just 1,400 watts—no more electricity than a water boiler—using a low-energy patented ionization technology and LEDs to make the tower glow at night. It creates bubbles of clean air around the tower and people can experience clean air for free, and sense what a clean air future is. The tower as a 'clean air temple' so it has a strong iconic but also per formative value. It captures the ultra-fine smog, something standard existing systems cannot capture yet.