Smog Solutions: What are we doing?
What is Smog?
Smoke and other air pollutants combine together to created a haze or a fog called smog. Smog is often times caused by air pollution, and it is very unhealthy to live in. Industrial and vehicle pollution, as well as things like incinerators and open burning, make up part of the problem. Many places in the United States start to see smog appear in the summer as the temperature increases, but it can differ in other parts of the world.
Effects of Smog
Smog can cause difficulty breathing as well as asthma and eye irritation. There are many other short-term effects of smog including chest irritation, and they can last up to a few hours. If the pollution is bad enough it could lead to serious infections, diseases or death.
There are people that live their whole lives not knowing what it is like to breathe clean air. Then there are other who can’t even define smog. We need to be doing as much as we can to make sure everyone has clean air to breathe and enjoy. In many countries, there are restrictions and laws around manufacturing to prevent air pollution and the causes of smog. Some cities still struggle with smog because of non-industrial forms of pollution that are not as heavily regulated as well as the shape of the land that helps magnify the problem, Los Angeles being a prime example. You can read an article we published about effects specific to China for more information.
Let’s take a look at what people around the world are doing to help combat smog and create a clean breathing environment now that we know what causes smog.
China Forest City Combats Smog
Stefano Boeri, an Italian architect, has recently unveiled plans to create the first ‘Forest City.’ He is already known for a skyscraper project in Milan called ‘Bosco Verticale’ where he covered two skyscrapers in trees and plants.
This new project to decrease smog will be a much larger expansion on that idea as he says in a quote from The Guardian.
“We have been asked to design an entire city where you don’t only have one tall building but you have 100 or 200 buildings of different sizes, all with trees and plants on the facades,” Boeri told the Guardian. “We are working very seriously on designing all the different buildings. I think they will start to build at the end of this year. By 2020 we could imagine having the first forest city in China.”
The goal of this project is to not only increase the visual appeal of the city, but it will also help combat the smog issues that plague the cities of China. According to The Guardian, the building project could eliminate 25 tons of carbon dioxide every year and it would create 60 kg of oxygen each day.
These buildings, which will contain offices and a hotel, are to be covered in dozens of tree species and thousands of other plants to help eliminate the smog pollution in Nanjing. Eventually, they would like to expand this idea to cover entire cities, so it will begin to have a real impact on the smog problem.
This a radical idea that will hopefully begin to resolve the smog pollution plaguing China.
Source: The Guardian
China Artificial Rain for Real Smog
China has decided to invest in a large amount of technology to try something amazing. They want to make it rain. According to Fortune, they are investing the equivalent of 168 Million dollars to help increase the amount of precipitation.
From Fortune, according to The South China Morning Post, they could see a rise in precipitation over as much as 10% of the land. This is nothing new to China because they have already been using cloud seeding technology for quite some time.
Increasing precipitation can help with smog as well as strong heat waves. This is another step in the increasingly expanding programs to combat smog as well as increase the amount of rain that the country sees.
India Propels Smog Away
India has chosen a unique way to combat smog. According to The Economist, a researcher by the name Moshe Alamaro has a solution. They say that he wants to use jet engines to clear the air, and the plan is to install them near the coal plants that are responsible for the most amount of pollution. Once installed they will turn them on and use the exhaust to propel the pollutants out of the area.
His thought is that this quick rise of warm air will carry the particles above the layer of breathable air, and it will decrease the coal plant’s contributions to the smog problem. Here is a quote from The Economist that explains the science behind it.
“His idea is to take a jet engine, put it next to one of India’s dirty coal-fired power plants, point its exhaust nozzle at the sky and then switch it on. His hope is that the jet’s exhaust will disrupt a meteorological phenomenon known as “inversion”, in which a layer of warm air settles over cooler air, trapping it, and that the rising stream of exhaust will carry off the tiny particles of matter that smog is composed of.”
Many people are skeptical that this will work, but Alamaro disagrees. Hopefully, he will be given a chance to try his method to decrease smog. The idea is definitely outside of the box, but it just may work.
Source: The Economist
Scientists have been finding ways to repurpose or recycle waste for quite some time now. We make benches out off egg cartons and run motors on used oil. We even reuse plastic bottles to make new ones. Now one scientist is bringing that same thought process to air pollution.
Anirudh Sharma, an MIT grad from India, has discovered a way to recycle black smoke. Smoke that comes from things like exhaust or a chimney. He has created a way to turn the pigment from the smoke into printer ink. From City Lab he says,
“The pigmentation of that blackened smoke is actually unburned carbon released from incomplete combustion,” or soot, he says. “If you capture that carbon and take it through a very simple chemical process, you can make really high-quality raw material that is important to printing and ink industries.”
This process is helping create a better environment for people to live in. The carbon is collected and turned into ink instead of being released into the air for people to breathe. If this method can be used in areas that have a high level of pollution maybe it can help decrease the smog. The more we decrease smog the more we increase the amount of safe air.
Source: City Lab
Fish food to fight smog? According to City Lab, This is a new possibility thanks to a company in San Fransico called Calysta. They are working on a way to use methane gas to help create fish food. The company would take the gas from many of the landfills that scatter out planet. It would then be pumped into a tank of water that is also housing a microbe that feeds on methane gas. The microbe is then heated and killed which creates a high-protein powder that is converted into a fish food substance.
This solves two problems. Air pollution is reduced because they will be collecting large quantities of the methane gas, and air pollution is a large contributor to smog and serious health issues. This gas is fed to the microbes before they convert them into fish food. The second issue that it tackles is the sustainability of fish food resources. Instead of harvesting resources to raise fish, they can use this processed waste to create the food. This makes the industry more sustainable, and it a great step in the right direction.
Source: City Lab
These ideas are all incredible advances in our thinking, and they go beyond the normal way of thinking and push us in a new direction. City forests, artificial rain, and jet engines could be the solutions to a massive smog problem. Smaller ideas like turning pollutants into printer ink are just as revolutionary. Methane gas is being turned into fish food to cut down on air pollution and increase sustainability. We have the technology to make a difference. If we can continue to think this way we will be in good shape in no time.