Sino Skyscraper to Suck up the Smog


Clean air tower by Alexander Balchin
Clean air tower by Alexander Balchin

The Great Leap Forward can be credited not only for years of neck break growth and for lifting up millions of people out of poverty in China.  Unfortunately, it also left in its wake pollution, and lots of it, as the country burned more coal to drive industry, factories spewed more emissions and more people drove cars to celebrate their prosperity.  This is most apparent in what you see, or rather what you don’t see, on what should be a clear day, just like what happened during the recently concluded Beijing Marathon.

The government has been taking drastic measures in its war on pollution like undertaking massive renewable energy projects, promoting electric vehicles, confiscating barbecue grills and even shooting at the smog with powerful water cannons.  It even went as far as shutting down airports to control pollution.

Yet another proposal to arrest the haze comes in the form of a building that breathes in the fog and breathes out clean air.  The project, proposed by China-based architect Alexander Balchin for the city of Binhai will collect polluted air in a chimney in the center of the building.  The air will then go through a system that cleans it through Venturi scrubbing technology.  The clean air will be supplied to the buildings denizens, giving them access to precious fresh air.  If that weren’t enough,  an ionizer will arrest errant airborne pollutants before the cleaned air is released back into the city.  The project will even generate wind energy from the rushing air.

As in war, this weapon against air pollution can be deployed elsewhere.  It consists of modules that can be taken apart and rebuilt in a city that is more polluted.   Each module has a garden that provides residents with precious outdoor space with unpolluted air.  They will enjoy the simple comfort of playing and exercising outside, now a luxury as authorities closed schools because of runaway levels of air toxicity.

The designer, Belchin, says that while the building is just a concept, it relies on technology that has been proven in factory exhausts for many years.  It is also said to be highly efficient in terms of use of space and energy, and can even generate its own electricity.

Unfortunately, it seems to transfer the burden of cleaning the air from the producers to the unwitting bystanders.  Hopefully, China’s authorities will also go forward in their fight against the polluters themselves.

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