At this point, half-hearted measures will not improve the situation in Delhi. The deteriorating air quality will continue to prove murderous if urgency is not shown. Action that should have been pre-emptive must now be integrated into a master plan to rid Delhi of its toxicity, once and for all, – a plan that goes beyond odd-even, shutting down of construction, hiked parking fees, and so on.
Here are 11 innovations that can double as solutions to Delhi’s smog problem.
- Mobile wall of moss
Developed by a Brussels-based company called Green City solutions, the wall measures around 3.5 metres, and has a much larger surface than any other plant. This helps in controlling more pollutants in the air. Called the “Citytree”, it has embedded sensors that help gauge the air quality and how efficient the tree is. It also has an internal watering tank that collects rainwater to keep the moss hydrated. There are around 20 city trees installed in cities around the globe, both indoors and out.
green city solutions
- Oxygen chamber
A joint effort by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and Nurturing Green, an NCR-based company, the oxygen chamber at Gurugram’s Huda City Centre brings with its over hundreds of anti-polluting plants. Sprawled across a 13,000 sq feet area, it is segmented into three zones – nursery, greenhouse, and an outside area. There is a dedicated oxygen room when people can spend time. Visitors can shop for anti-polluting plants such as areca palm, aloe vera, and sansperia.
- Electric cars
Environmental concerns are driving electric vehicles forward. China wants to ban fossil fuels and switch to electric cars by 2040. India wants to achieve that by 2030. Globally, 95% of electric cars are sold in only 10 countries – China, the US, Japan, Canada, Norway, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. India needs a solid plan if we want to achieve that goal in a short span of twelve years. All-electric vehicles produce zero direct emissions, which can greatly improve air quality in urban areas.
- Vertical forest city
Cities in India and China are having trouble breathing with toxic gases hanging low in the air. Where India’s struggling to find a solution, China’s tackling the problem head on. An entire city is being set up in Liuzhou with a tree cover that will act as an air filter – with 40,000 trees and more than a million plants. The aim is to absorb the pollution and produce oxygen. The city is being designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti and is expected to be completed by 2020. It will absorb 10,000 tones of CO2 every year and generate 900 tonnes of clean oxygen.
- Vertical forest
China is taking every environment-friendly effort to clean its air of pollutants. Apart from the forest city, China will also welcome two new Nanjing Towers that will produce 60 kg of clean oxygen every single day. These vertical gardens will house over 3,000 plants comprising 1,000 trees and nearly 2,500 shrubs from 23 different local species. Designed by Italian architect, Stefano Boeri Architetti, each of the two towers will stand tall at a height of 656 feet and 354 feet, respectively.
- Smog-free tower
Once again, the credit of innovating goes to China. The nation is planning to deploy the world’s largest outdoor air purifier, the Smog Free Tower. To be designed by a Dutch engineer, Daan Roosegaarde, the purifier will be set up in China’s smog-hit capital Beijing. The city has a long-standing problem with the thick layer of heavily-polluted haze. The seven-meter-tall tower will treat 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour by collecting over 75% of pollutants that contribute to smog – namely PM2.5 and PM10.
- Clean air bubble
Wynd – a water-bottle sized air purifier – is a portable device that can create a bubble of clean air around you, no matter how polluted the surrounding air is. At the bottom of the purifier lies a small, detachable sensor that constantly monitors the air quality. It can also automatically adjust how fast the filter works. The device works best up to three feet away. It is a single-user device and can be placed on a desk or a bedside table.
- Air-purifying billboard
Designed by the University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC), this air-purifying billboard can do wonders for Delhi. It sucks pollution from the sky and releases purified air to the surrounding areas. It generates nearly 100,000 cubic meters of urban air every day, which is equivalent to the fresh air produced by 1,200 mature trees. The billboard can remove dust, metal, and stone particles especially around construction zones. The first billboard was set up in Lima, Peru.
- Giant sprinklers
The brainchild of Yu Shaocai, a former US Environmental Protection Agency employee, giant sprinklers are based on the natural occurrence of “wet deposition”. The process involves using raindrops and snowflakes to deposit polluted particles on the ground in order to clean the air of its pollutants. Shaocai’s idea to create this urban infrastructure involves placing giant sprinklers to the exteriors of high-rise building to flush out toxins and gases from the air.
- Photosynthesis bike
Conceptualised by a Bangkok-based company called Lightfog Creative & Design Company, a photosynthesis bike can purify polluted air as one pedals around the city. This bike is designed in such a way that it can generate oxygen through a “photosynthesis system”. Once the oxygen is released, it initiates a reaction between water and electric power from a lithium-ion battery. In turn, the filter, fitted between the handlebars, would strip particulate matter from the air and release fresh air for the rider.
Lightfog Creative & Design Company
- Smog eating pavement
Developed by Dutch scientists from Eindhoven University of Technology, this special “photocatalytic pavement” can reduce smog by 45 percent and 19 percent throughout the day. The pavement is coated with titanium oxide that can extract harmful nitrogen oxides out of the air. Similarly, students from the University of California in Riverside also developed roof tiles that could remove air pollutants.