There used to be a smog filtration tower Sim City players could download in the game’s official open source forum.
Plopping a few around the city would reduce air pollution to zero, spurring the development of high-density residential properties, high-tech industry, and commercial skyscrapers.
Traditionalists would lament about it being a “cheat” because it made building a utopian metropolis infinitely easier despite not being a “real thing.”
Well, now it is.
Dutchman Daan Roosegaarde and his team of designers have created the world’s first smog-free tower, a seven-metre structure that is able to clean 30,000 cubic metres of air an hour by sucking it in, filtering it through ion technology, and spitting it back out.
Originally erected in Rotterdam, the tower is now doing work in Beijing, one of the world’s most polluted cities.
“The smog-free tower contributes to a debate that shouldn’t be confined to politics,” says Rotterdam’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb. “Air pollution is a matter that affects us all, and it requires a serious discussion. But we do need innovators like Daan Roosegaarde to start the conversation at another level.”
The key to the tower’s function lies in its filters, which were developed by Delft University of Technology nanoparticles expert Bob Ursem. He says they’re capable of cleaning air at a 60 per cent rate in outdoor settings, and around 70 per cent indoors.
While the technology may not be immediately scalable – the cost of a filter can range from $2,000 to $160,000 – Roosegaarde and Ursem’s goal is to get governments to consider alternative solutions to air pollution. New York City, for example, will deploy 12 street-cleaning cars featuring the air filter while pilot projects for the tower are set to launch next in Eindhoven and Paris.
What will they think of next – solar-powered, glow-in-the-dark bike paths?