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The Smog Free Bicycle concept: cleaning city air while we ride

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A team of Dutch designers & engineers at Studio Roosegaarde have a new concept to clean the air of polluted cities – bicycle mounted smog vacuums. Oddly enough there is actual science to back this up, and it looks like it will really happen. The project takes the real research of Professor Bert Blocken of the Eindhoven University of Technology and reimagines a broader, mobile application. Blocken developed the ‘positive ionization ENS technology’ which essentially sucks a large amount of the particulate matter out of polluted air, and Daan Roosegaarde has already used the tech to create the Smog Free Tower project, a real working prototype in China that employs a fixed tower in an urban green space to separate the smog from the polluted air of its immediate surroundings. Now Roosegaarde wants to take the tech on the road…

 

Now that both the underlying technology and the Smog Free Tower itself have been successfully evaluated with both measurement in the field and the backing computer simulations, results confirm that the tower captures and removes up to 70% of the ingested PM10 (particles less than 10 microns in diameter) and up to 50% of the ingested PM2.5 (<2.5 microns) particulates from its surroundings.

all images courtesy Studio Roosegaarde

For the tower in an open field, and calm wind conditions, that means it can result in PM10 reductions up to 45% and PM2.5 reductions up to 25% over an area radiating out 20m (65′) around the tower. Its benefits are said to be even more effective when constrained to a more enclosed area.

So now Roosegaarde is looking to take the Smog Free Project to the next step with the Smog Free Bicycle. The innovative bike would essentially get a small portable version of the tower that would inhale the polluted air of more confined city streets, cleans it, and spit out clean air onto the bike rider.

The project is currently in its first development stage, but hopes to become a viable method to combat smog in the urban environment, while reinforcing the ideas & benefits of cycling as a more healthy form of urban transportation to start with. Roosegaarde hopes see his concept align with the fast growing attention being paid to bike share systems in China, and feels that the smog capturing system could be a good fit for such programs like the more than one million sharable bikes in the Beijing region’s Mobike program. “Beijing used to be an iconic bicycle city. We want to bring back the bicycle as a cultural icon of China and as the next step towards smog free cities”, says Daan Roosegaarde.

StudioRoosegaarde.net

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TheKaiser
7 years ago

Every little bit helps, and I am all for a clean utopian bicycle riding society, but does it not make more sense to mount these units closer to the point of emission? Like make versions that mount on smoke stacks and tailpipes, and sit directly in the waste stream, rather than trying to catch the stuff from a bike or tower once it is freely dispersed throughout the atmosphere. Similarly, if the goal is to clean the air that the cyclist is breathing, then a mask with seal around the face would be more effective than a little stream of semi clean air that gets buffeted about by passing traffic and crosswinds.

JBikes
JBikes
7 years ago
Reply to  TheKaiser

Point of emission…can be difficult especially with secondary smog.
With regards to the cyclist, I am sure the effectiveness of the device could easily be tested. If this reduce pollutants by say 50% I may choose it over a mask as its much more comfortable.

zooey
zooey
7 years ago
Reply to  TheKaiser

Such exhaust is super heated. Go electric motor or hydrogen fueled engine and place filters at the source of electricity and hydrogen, which does something about the heat?

Your mask idea sounds like it may make breathing significantly more difficult, and clumsier. On the plus side, it might clean the carbon emissions from breathing out.

zooey
zooey
7 years ago
Reply to  zooey

BTW, the carbon emissions from breathing out is a tongue-in-cheek sarcastic remark. We exhale the carbon we breathe in.

Had to add this since there’s bound to be people sensitive to such a joke, and many who would rather think others are stupid than clever…

TheKaiser
7 years ago
Reply to  zooey

Yes, sarcasm can be tough to convey in the written word. Regarding the masks, there are a bunch in existence already and the difficulty breathing is entirely dependent on the size and quality of the filter element. Some have quite a high flow capacity, and then vent directly on the exhale, so they are surprisingly minimal in restriction. The best ones are probably those made for people who do physically intensive work around hazardous dust, like asbestos and lead paint remediation.

Jason Miles
7 years ago

I agree this seems like it would never work. The stream lines in their cyclist idea are clearly not how the air will flow. It would take an amazingly strong fan to pump air up to your face while you are riding.

Also does their cleaning tower not filter air above 1.8m? That is right about where I would need the filtering if walking by.

Chase
Chase
7 years ago

OMG! You really can’t be serious.
The scale of this is so tiny it has zero effect. Maybe if you were confined to closet which is where you should be if you think this is in any way viable.

NitrOxy Breether
NitrOxy Breether
7 years ago

The solution to smog is not an air scrubber.

joe
joe
7 years ago

Maybe this would be worthwhile if we got paid for it, but I don’t see why anybody would voluntarily put this on their bike.

I honestly, think it is something that should be implemented on road going vehicles that are constantly on the road, and have more than enough power to overcome the aerodynamic drag: like trucks!

BMX
BMX
7 years ago
Reply to  joe

Agree with Joe why should cyclist clean up after car traffic. Why not ask a guy in a BMW to attach a device to the hood to hoover up my exhaust of beer farts and bad breath. Bet they would be trilled with the idea.

joe
joe
7 years ago

Although, as an American Engineer, I am seriously jealous of all the support and encouragement that European Engineers and Scientists get from their governments.

American Engineers sit around developing ancient technology that makes rich people richer, and pollutes the environment with fossil fuels.

I have always been jealous of the intelligence behind the governments of various European countries, and now that Trump is in power, I have to seriously consider leaving this country if I want a decent career developing products that I believe in.

SAD!

JBikes
JBikes
7 years ago
Reply to  joe

What?
America is an amazing place for an innovator. Look to private investors.

BikeHoarder6
BikeHoarder6
7 years ago

Why not just put massive atmospheric processors everywhere? (Like the ones in the movie Aliens). With “So Called President” Trump gutting the EPA and backing out of the climate agreement, it’s possible we’ll all soon be wearing masks and lining up for our rations of Soylent Green.

JBikes
JBikes
7 years ago
Reply to  BikeHoarder6

Why not just travel back in time and fix things…like they did in many movies

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