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New Project Cleans The Smog Out Of China And Turns It Into Jewelry

Would you wear a ring that used to be pollution?

Images courtesy of Studio Roosegaarde

Dutch design firm Studio Roosegaarde has caught our attention again and again, from its touch-activated LED crystals and sustainable dancefloors that generate electricity when you break it down, to the Smart Highways that could evolve the future of driving. One of the group's upcoming projects continues its work with sustainable design and interest in strengthening the ethos of the cities it works in. 

Air pollution is a shockingly omnipresent issue in China, and some cities only have 30 feet of clean air before thick blankets of cancer-causing smog form a wall above the ground. Less than two weeks ago, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified Chinese air as "carcinogenic to humans," and attributed the extremely high cancer rates throughout the country in part to the polluted air. 

A Chinese cityscape, with and without smog

Smog, the title of Roosegaarde's upcoming work, is a collaboration with Bob Ursem from the university TU Delft, and the European Nuclear Society that implements ion technology to eradicate smog in Asian cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

The ion technology cleans the air by creating a weak electromagnetic field that pulls down smog from the sky so it's easier to clean up. This process could create holes in the smog that will again allow citizens to breath clean air and see the sun in distinct, sharp pockets.

Above is a simulation of how the project will improve the skyline

As a result of Smog, the team expects people to visit the areas with clean spaces in the sky, as if they were art installations. One employee from Roosegaarde told The Creators Project, "it is the new campfire experience, which makes a futuristic relation between people and space." 

Though it's a little morbid that the "new" campfire tradition includes people gathering around rare pockets of clean air, Smog also strives to transform the pollution into beautiful objects.

When the electromagnetic fields pull down the dirty air, the researchers will compress it into jewelry called "smog rings." They are yet to share what such rings will look like, but it's a fascinating twist on the smog issues--turning something evil into a twinkling memento . 

Smog is comprimising the lives and well-being of people around the world. While there are many ways to tackle such a pernicious problem, Roosegaarde's dual tactic of cleaning and simultaneously creating is one of the more forward-thinking proposed solutions to this issue.

Would you wear a smog ring, or would it remind you of too many murky things? Let us know in the comments. 

@zachsokol