This creative artist has combined science and technology to transform smog into unusual jewellery pieces

A Dutch designer has created the world’s largest air purifier that not only cleans up air and makes it breathable again but also turns smog into jewellery.

According to a recent study by the researchers at UC Berkeley, smog kills about 4,000 people every day in China. On the other hand, in the US about 4 in 10 people live in counties that have unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association.

Daan Roosegaarde has created a 23-foot (7-metre) tall air purifier called the Smog Free Tower that will help address the country’s growing smog problem. The Smog Free project is scheduled to begin this September in Beijing, China.

Similar to a vacuum pump, the device will suck smog from its top and release the filtered air through its six-sided vents. The initiative, which was funded on Kickstarter, could clean over 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour while only being powered by 1,400 watts of green energy.

It took about three years of research and development for Roosegaarde. The jewellery is part of Roosegaarde’s Smog Free project, which has seen him work on a number of creations to promote clean air in public spaces.

His latest venture was to introduce his portable air-cleaning tower, already tested out in Rotterdam, to Beijing – one of the world’s most polluted cities. Put up outside the Tate Modern, it doesn’t look out of place.

In an interview with the BBC World Service, he explained that it works by “sucking up” polluted air, and purifying the air particles on a “nano level” before “spitting out” clean air.

He said: “The tower makes a park or playground about 75% more clean than the rest of the city. It purifies around 30,000 cubic metres per hour, using no more electricity than a normal water boiler.

“It’s the beginning of the future. The big idea is clean air for everyone.”

Roosegaarde also aims to eventually roll out other models in Beijing, Mexico City, Paris, and Los Angeles.

Describing how the tower works on its Kickstarter page, this is Roosegaarde said:

“By charging the Smog Free Tower with a small positive current, an electrode will send positive ions into the air. These ions will attach themselves to fine dust particles. A negatively charged surface – the counter electrode – will then draw the positive ions in, together with the fine dust particles. The fine dust that would normally harm us, is collected together with the ions and stored inside the tower. This technology manages to capture ultra-fine smog particles which regular filter systems fail to do.”

However, the well-designed air purifier doesn’t just clean up smog, which are essentially carbon, but it can also be condensed to create tiny “gem stones.” That is how Roosegaarde has created the flashy jewellery pieces like rings and cufflinks with funding from the Kickstarter campaign, which generated 100,000 euro. Each of the tiny stones is the equivalent of 1,000 cubic metres of air.

His overall inspiration for finding innovative ways to fight pollution, he said, was the idea: “What is more beautiful than clean air?”

“We need to be creative in our solutions. It’s the beginning of something beautiful, I think.”