Smog is a huge problem these days. In cities like Los Angeles and São Paolo, the smog problem is notorious, but nowhere in the world is it quite as bad as it is in Beijing, China.
Smog is made of small, airborne particles from vehicle emissions and burning coal or other materials. Breathing it in can cause serious respiratory problems and illness.
Smog inhalation is directly linked to asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and decreased lung capacity.
In places like Beijing that have a serious smog problem, people wear masks to try to keep at least the larger particles out, but it's still not totally effective.
Thankfully, Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde has come up with a plan. Roosegaarde lives in Beijing, so he knows how bad the problem really is. He's come up with a way to suck the pollution right out of the air, then turn the collected particles into high-end jewelry. It sounds pretty wild, but it's also pretty brilliant.
The plan involves using static electricity and is actually a larger version of the air filtration systems used by hospitals. The electricity ionizes dust particles and gives them a positive charge. This allows a negatively charged electrode to pull the particles from the air.
The large-scale equipment is still being built and will be set up in a park in Beijing. The initial test will pull smog from an area roughly 40 square meters in size. If that goes well, the technology will be launched in other spaces.
The smog gets collected as it gets pulled to the ground.
This is the film that helps pull particulate matter from the air.
The smog resembles a black, soot-like powder when it's removed from the air. "It is a strange process to suck the pollution out of the air and have it in our hands a few minutes later," Roosegaarde says. "It looks like a mystic black powder, but most mesmerizing about this is that normally you would have to breathe it."
All the materials that are pulled and collected into machines are then converted into jewelry. Currently, the soot is either compressed into a cube set in a clear stone or processed into a fake diamond.
This tiny cube contains enough pollution to render 1,000 cubic meters of air deadly.
Roosegaarde explains that "Making tangible and wearable material of the smog is a way of creating awareness. By buying or sharing the smog ring, you donate 1,000 cubic meters of clean air to the city."
Though he knows one park isn't exactly going to make a world of difference, Roosegaarde hopes that this will inspire people to see the potential of green technology. Check out more about the project on Roosegaarde's website.