Smog affects many major cities around the world and can cause health problems for those breathing it in. To highlight this issue, Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde is building what he calls the world's largest air purifier. The Smog Free Tower is designed to allow people to breathe clean air in a city ... plus it also turns the smog into jewelry.

The Smog Free Tower is the latest project of Roosegaarde's that deals with urban improvement. Previous projects have included glow-in-the-dark bike lanes and glow-in-the-dark road markings, along with smart highways that show different markings at different temperatures, that only use lighting when vehicles are detected, and that generate electricity.

The aim of this latest project, Roosegaarde says, is to "make smog more tangible to people." It is not designed to be an overall solution to the problem of smog, but to provide a "sensory experience" of a potential clean-air future.

The Smog Free Tower is basically a giant air ionizer. The 7 x 3.5 m (23 x 11.5 ft) structure draws in dirty air and purifies it before expelling it back into the environment. This process is said to create a localized bubble that is up to 75 percent cleaner than the rest of the city in which it is located.

The tower uses a small current to send positively-charged ions out into the surrounding air. The ions attach themselves to fine dust particles, which are then drawn back into the tower by an internal negatively-charged surface and subsequently captured.

Roosegaarde says the tower can clean 30,000 cu m (1,060,000 cu ft) of air per hour, and runs on a relatively low amount of power. It requires 1,700 W to operate, and the electricity used to do so is sourced from wind energy.

In an added twist, the project will use the filtered smog particles to create jewelry by compressing them into cubes and mounting them in rings and cufflinks. Each Cube contains the smog collected from 1,000 cu m (35,300 cu ft) of air. Roosegaarde estimates that, in areas affected by severe air pollution, the Smog Free Tower will be able to produce over 3,500 cubes a day.

The Smog Free Tower has been in development for three years and the first deployment is planned for Rotterdam, the Netherlands, this September. It is expected to open with a "Smog Free Party" on Sept. 4, and there are plans to tour the tower around other cities after its time in Rotterdam. The cities of Beijing (during a trip to which the idea was conceived), Mumbai and Paris are already penciled in.

A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign is underway to raise money for the deployment of the Smog Free Tower in Rotterdam. Individuals who pledge from €50 (about US$55) can receive an unmounted smog cube, assuming all goes to plan with the campaign and project. Larger pledges are required for the jewelry.

In the video below, Roosegaarde explains the Smog Free Tower.

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