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Giant smog-sucking tower creates ‘bubble of clean air’ in Beijing

A 23-foot-tall air purifier debuts in the pollution-ridden city

Three years ago, Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde unveiled a proposal for a huge "electronic vacuum cleaner" that would help clear the sky in pollution-ridden Beijing. Though the idea seemed a bit like wishful thinking then, Roosegaarde had actually already developed a working prototype with scientists at the Delft University of Technology and was in talks with the mayor of Beijing to deploy the design in a new city park. Now, after a Kickstarter campaign that netted nearly $150,000 last year, Roosegaarde’s giant smog-sucking tower just made its debut in the Chinese capital as part of Beijing Design Week.

The finished result, a 23-foot-tall structure, effectively the largest air purifier in the world, cleans 30,000 cubic meters per hour by capturing smog particles with an electric field, creating a 360-degree "smog-free zone" in the middle of Beijing’s 751 D-park. Beijing is actually the first stop in a five-city tour across China for the smog-clearing tower. Mega-cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai are also on the itinerary.

In a recent interview with Designboom, Roosegaarde says the project is "not just an artwork or an idea about a White Dutch guy." He says that with the support of the Chinese government, this is "really the beginning of the war on smog," and teases a future of "bigger towers" (perhaps in countries like India and Mexico) and bikes that can replace smog with clean air. Do check out the full interview here.