Romm Diamonds Blog
September 14th, 2015
Netherlands-based designer Daan Roosegaarde is on a mission to install "Smog Free Towers" in pollution-challenged cities, such as Beijing, Mexico City, Mumbai, Paris and Los Angeles — and finance the project with jewelry made from compressed smog particles.

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Roosegaarde's 23-foot tower promises an oasis of pure air in cities facing air-quality issues. The Smog Free Tower works like a giant air purifier, capable of processing 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour and capturing the ultra-fine polluting particles in the process. The prototype was unveiled in Roosegaard's hometown of Rotterdam last week.

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Roosegaarde is using compressed smog particles to create fun jewelry that will help fund the projects. The designer explained that the pollution is mostly carbon, the same element that makes up a diamond.

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Roosegaarde uses high pressure to form the carbon into a square black "gemstone" and encases the material in an 8.4 mm resin cube. The cube is then set onto a fashionable ring or cufflink. The Smog Free Cube jewelry is made of stainless steel and costs about $270.

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Roosegaarde is betting that consumers will be proud to purchase the jewelry, which is a very literal emblem of their commitment to cleaning up the environment. The smog particles for one ring represents the purification of 1,000 cubic meters of air. One Smog Free Tower will be capable of producing 3,500 Smog Free Cubes per day.

“It’s a beautiful way of carrying the message of this project with you and perceiving the tangible environmental impact you’ve made by supporting this project,” explained the designer.

Roosegaarde's vision is to create smog-free "bubbles" of public space where city dwellers could experience clean air for free.

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His project directly addresses growing health concerns in cities around the world. The American Lung Association, for example, claims that four in 10 Americans live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution. In China, the situation is even more dire, as smog kills about 4,000 people per day, according to a recent study published by UC Berkeley.

The Smog Free Tower basically sucks polluted material from the top and then distributes the filtered air through the vents on its sides. Here's Roosegaarde's technical explanation of how the Smog Free Tower accomplishes its task...

“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," he wrote. "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 of the tower. This technology manages to capture ultra-fine smog particles which regular filter systems fail to do.”

To fund demonstrations of the Smog Free Tower in cities outside of Rotterdam, Roosegaarde turned to the crowdfunding website, Kickstarter.com. The site successfully raised $105,500, nearly double his target goal of $54,000. More than 1,300 backers have pledged support for the campaign that ends on Wednesday, September 16.

Credits: All images via Studio Roosegaarde.