An air purifier the size of a building is sucking up China’s smog and turning it into jewelry

Anti-pollution technology is receiving a breath of fresh air in China.

Yesterday (Sept. 29) Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and his team erected a seven-meter-tall air purifier in Beijing. The so-called Smog Free Tower purportedly treats 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour, collecting more than 75% of two kinds of pollutants, PM2.5 and PM10, that contribute to smog.

smog free tower beijing
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Security personnel stand near the Smog Free Tower designed by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde on display in between chimneys at D-751art district in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. In a city where smog routinely blankets the streets and chokes off clean air, a Dutch artist has offered an eccentric solution: a 20-foot metal tower that takes in smog and purifies it like a giant outdoor vacuum cleaner. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The massive structure has its roots in a Kickstarter campaign that raised €113,153 ($127,000) in August 2015. It appeared first in Rotterdam last year before making its way east. With the support from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, the structure will travel to three additional cities in the country after its stint in Beijing.

The Smog Free Tower does more than suck up pollution. It also turns particulate matter it into jewelry by compressing 1,000 cubic meters of polluted air into rings, which visitors can purchase.


China has some of the worst air pollution in the world. Last year, Beijing recorded PM2.5 levels that were 17 times greater than the limit recommended by the World Health Organization. Researchers estimate that pollution causes 1.6 million deaths annually in China, marking about 17% of all deaths.

Roosegaarde isn’t the only person to think up unconventional solutions to China’s smog problem. Over the past two years, officials and activists have experimented with smog vacuums, smog cannons, and smog-killing drones.

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