A Chinese startup seems to have come up with a better way to tackle smog and just unveiled bizarre bikes that absorb pollution and release clean air.
Dutch artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde kick started the scheme after realizing that the city skyline is visible on weekends but shrouded in smog during weekdays.
China is one of the most polluted countries on the planet, but a new project hopes to use pedal power to help the city be free of its smog-filled air. Roosegaarde sees the bike being implemented through bike sharing programs in China such as Mobike.
The Smog Free Bicycle will inhale polluted air, clean it, and release clean air toward the rider and absorb carbon from the atmosphere in major cities like Beijing.
The plans are part of a wider project that includes towers which use the technology, with the pollutants they collect then turned into jewelry. The firm signed a deal with a bike-sharing startup to make this dream a reality.
In theory, these bikes would include a device, likely mounted on the handlebars, that can pull in ambient air and run it through positive-ionization filters to remove particulate matter.
The result—a clean, healthy breeze blowing into cyclists’ faces. If such a program was adopted on a huge scale, the bike-mounted smog scrubbers might even have a marginal impact on improving a city’s overall air quality.
Daan’s “Smog Free Tower,” is a 23-foot-tall prong that went up in Beijing last year that inhales dirty air and releases fresh air around the structure.
The World Health Organization rates China as the worst country in the world for outside air pollution: More than a million of its people died prematurely in 2012 due to fumes pumped out by factories, cars, and other sources. Studio Roosegaarde wouldn’t say whether its biking system is intended to attack smog on a city-wide scale, as it’s still a nascent idea.
Right now, it seems like the technology is intended to help protect the lungs of individual riders. Spokeswoman Jane Lee says,
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We are still in the concept stage, which is too early to answer this question, but it is to release the air around/to the cyclist.
The bike is a perfect model, it has a double function as it cleans the air and reduces congestion while being healthy and energy-friendly. The bicycle is part of the Dutch DNA of course, and Beijing and other cities in China used to be bike cities. We want to bring back its prestige and follow our ethos of making citizens apart of the solution instead of the problem.
It will always be connected with big programs of government and green technology and electric cars. They do top-down, we do bottom-up, and we meet in the middle.
His Ted Talk in 2012 can be viewed here, where he talked on ‘Innovations as a Dutch experience’.
Roosegaarde is the creative director of social design lab Studio Roosegaarde and his work explores the dynamic relation between space, people and technology.
He is putting his soul and research in creating the best eco-friendly bicycles where we contribute to the nature and take a step to curb pollution.