Every country has its own version of pollution patrol. Bogota has vertical gardens. China has a purification tower. Debuting its most exciting decontamination technology yet, Poland is ahead of the game with a “smog vacuum” that turns dirty air into jewelry.
The tower-like device essentially sucks up smog from the top and then releases the filtered air through its six-sided vents. It can clean more than 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour and uses no more electricity than a water boiler, according to [designer Daan] Roosegaarde.
After three years of research and development, the tower made initial headway in Rotterdam. To encourage other countries to adopt the device, Roosegaarde started pressing collected dust particles into rings and cufflinks. A single gem stone is equivalent to 1,000 cubic meters of air, which sounds like a whole lot, but deceptively so.
“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.”
Never did I believe anything remotely attractive could come of city smog. But I like it, and I’m putting a ring on it.
In its last-ditch effort to combat smog with air-purifying bicycles, China has moved onto greater endeavors. Ensuing a promise to plant an Ireland-sized forest, Shaanxi province is tackling air pollution head-on with a giant air purifier.
The system works through greenhouses covering about half the size of a soccer field around the base of the tower.
Polluted air is sucked into the glasshouses and heated up by solar energy. The hot air then rises through the tower and passes through multiple layers of cleaning filters.
Since its recent launch, the 100-meter edifice has produced over 10 million cubic meters of clean air. As one of the most heavily-polluted regions in China, Xian is the perfect guinea pig for purifying technology. The gargantuan spire is still experimental, but may soon swarm the nation.
“It barely requires any power input throughout daylight hours. The idea has worked very well in the test run,” [said head of research Cao Junji.]
Cao’s full-size tower will span 500 meters. If its dwarfed prototype remains as promising as it seems, sunset-gazing in China may just become a popular weekend activity.
Since the birth of the smartphone, Google, Apple, and Android have been working to make newer models appropriate for… well, everything. Not only are they a source of entertainment — they are becoming equally health-centered. But smartphones cater to everyone, including amateur and professional photographers. This new algorithm edits phone photos before you even take them.
Machine learning networks were set to work on a database of 5,000 sample images improved by five professional photographers, teaching the software how to tweak a picture to get it looking its best.
Because of resolution issues, the algorithm processes in low-quality, later scaling up results without ruining the image. Using this mechanism, the app uses only a hundredth of the phone’s memory. Like most sterling apps, it also comes with additional features.
As well as brightening dark spots and balancing contrast, for example, the algorithms could even mimic the style of a particular photographer.
Does this mean my work has the potential to exhibit at the MET? While the app makes photography seem easy, let’s not forget that snapping a great picture also takes a level of skill.
Realizing the effects of climate change has encouraged new methods of producing clean energy. Kenya is turning human waste into cooking fuel. Michelin is manufacturing an airless, biodegradable tire. Now, an Italian startup is distributing an eco-box that provides water and power to remote areas across the world.
The box itself is a simple container, measuring six by six by six feet. With solar panels on top and water treatment inside, it can help remote communities with both off-grid energy and easily accessible filtered water.
Off Grid Box’s container can provide an entire family of four with filtered water for just 12 cents. A single unit can distribute battery packs to nearly 300 families. Each pack can run three LED lights for up to 4 hours and fully charge two mobile phones.
The new business model is getting a thorough test in Rwanda, where the startup plans to install units in 18 villages. The government has commissioned 14 contractors to work on rural electrification, and Off Grid Box is partnered with three of them so far. By 2020, it hopes to be serving 420,000 end-customers.
The company has yet to find its rhythm in terms of sales, but Off Grid Box’s future looks bright. Conceivably, it’s time for big buyers to care less about trivial machines and start thinking about the technology poorer communities need.
Modern day-technologies have come as far as being able to detect water pollution in large scales. Filtering lakes and rivers, on the other hand, is a different story. Researchers at the Edith Cowan University in Australia have recently come up with a potential solution. By modifying the atomic structure of iron, they created a metal that can purify water in minutes.
Associate Professor Laichang Zhang from ECU’s School of Engineering was able to change the atomic structure of iron to form what is known as metallic glass.
A thin strip of the iron-based metallic glass… can remove impurities such as dyes or heavy metals from even highly polluted water in just minutes.
The material is not only cheaper to produce — it doesn’t create iron sludge, which iron powder does. The metallic glass is also reusable up to 20 times, whereas most wastewater treatments are disposed of immediately. Apparently, the product is already in demand.
“We have already had significant interest from companies in both China and Australia who are keen to work with us to develop this technology, including Ausino Drilling Services, whose clients include Rio Tinto and the Aluminum Corporation of China.”
Researchers are targeting use towards the mining and textile industries, both of which produce large amounts of water. Now that’s rock and roll — or should I say heavy metal?