After years of hype, an anti-air pollution exhibit by an international artist has finally been unveiled in Beijing, only to be described as “hot-air” by critics.
Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde’s seven meter-tall creation, the Smog Free Tower, now stands in the 798 art district of Beijing, and will soon be officially shown to the public with future plans to tour the country.
According to Roosegaarde’s website, the structure has the ability to capture 75 percent of the PM 2.5 and PM 10 particles in its vicinity, thereby cleaning 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour through its patented ozone-free ion technology. Visitors who tour the exhibit will experience a “bubble” of fresh air released as the device releases purified air.
As impressive as that sounds, experts are finding Roosegaard’s bold statements to be coming off stale.
The China Economic Report quotes one expert who estimates that if the surrounding air has a PM 2.5 concentration of 200 per cubic meter, the tower will absorb just 4.5 grams of PM 2.5 particles each hour, barely matching the weight of a spoon of salt.
Caixin quotes another expert as saying that provided the layer of air pollution blanketing Beijing is 100 meters deep, there will need to be 100,000 such devices to clean the air of the entire 5th ring road area.
Feng Jia, a member of the Chinese Society For Environmental Sciences, compared the effectiveness of the tower to turning on an air conditioner outside a house. Feng called the installation “just a kind of performance art” seeing as the device requires energy to run, and so therefore produces pollutants to operate.
Seeing as it was created by an artist and is displayed in an art zone, maybe it is just a work of art. In that case, what does it mean?
He Xujiang, the deputy director of policy development at the Energy Internet Innovation Research Center of Tsinghua University has one interpretation. “Maybe people have given up all hope in trying to clean the air,” he said.
But before you begin to cleanse your soul as a precursor to cleansing the environment, the Smog Free Tower doesn’t have any pretensions about what it can provide the public in terms of material needs.
As part of the hype leading up to the unveiling of the tower, Roosegaarde said diamonds can be made from the carbon extracted from the device, giving the tower one last purpose.