Posts tagged with "Smog":

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Studio Roosegaarde’s giant air-purifier leaves Beijing’s air cleaner than it found it

During his visit to Beijing in 2013, Daan Roosegaarde, Dutch artist, designer, and innovator, discovered the air quality in the city was so poor that children were kept indoors and he was unable to see out the window of his hotel room. But Roosegaarde saw more in the smog than most; he saw the possibility for clean air for the people of Beijing. He returned to his team of designers at Studio Roosegaarde and they set to work on designing, building, and testing (what they claim is) the world’s largest air purifier. Standing at almost 23 feet high, the Smog Free Tower can clean 30,000 cubic meters of air per hour using the same amount of electricity as a home water boiler (about 1,400 watts). According to Roosegaarde, the system can collect, capture, and turn to dust about 75% of dangerous PM2.5 and PM10 airborne smog particulates, creating a bubble of clean air in its midst. Studio Roosegaarde turned to Kickstarter to get the project going and were able to build their first Smog Free Tower in Rotterdam in September of 2015. One year later, with the support of the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Smog Free Tower opened in Beijing’s 751 D.Park on the first stop of its global tour. “We warmly welcome Smog Free Project to Beijing,” said Liu Guozheng, Secretary-General of The China Forum of Environmental Journalists. “This project is key in our agenda to promote clean air as a ‘green lifestyle’ among Chinese citizens. Our goal is to guide the public to a healthier lifestyle, low carbon development and to raise awareness amongst the public and reduce smog.” Visitors have also enjoyed visiting the Tower during its stay, calling it the “clean air temple,” in reference to historic Chinese pagodas. During its stint in Beijing, the tower cleansed 30 million cubic meters of air, equivalent to the volume of 10 Beijing National Stadiums, and removed 400 grams of smog. The smog particulates collected from the tower’s Beijing stay have been used to create 300 limited edition Smog Free Rings, each crafted by a member of Roosegaarde’s design team. The purchase of the rings aids in the development of the project and its global tour. “Smog Free Project is about the dream of clean air and the beginning of a journey towards smarter cities,” said Roosegaarde. He and his team hope that the Smog Free Project will inspire citizens, governments, and other members of the tech industry to work together toward smog-free cities. To learn more about Smog Free Project, Smog Free Rings, and the Smog Free Tower’s next stop on its global tour, visit Studio Roosegaarde’s website here.
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New Delhi and Milan scale back on automobile usage to combat runaway air pollution

New Delhi has taken emergency measures to deal with the particularly thick and noxious air that has covered India’s capital city this winter. For the first two weeks of the New Year, the city has enacted an odd-even rule, which stipulates that even-numbered license plates be allowed on the roads only on even-numbered dates, and odd-numbered license plates only on odd-numbered dates. Because the trial intervention applies to private automobile vehicles exclusively, it has been criticized for its many loopholes. High level government officials, including India’s prime minister, chief justice, and state governors are exempt from the ban, as well as female drivers not accompanied by a male over 12 years old, and motorcycles, which are said to account for a third of emissions from vehicles. Buses, taxis, and rickshaws are also exempt. Along with the two-week plan, the government announced that it would provide 3,000 extra buses to handle the expected increase in demand. Drivers caught violating the new policy could be fined up to 2,000 rupees, or $30. The odd-even initiative follows a temporary ban on the registration of diesel cars with a capacity of 2,000 cubic centimeters ordered by the Supreme Court of India in December. The Court also set a time frame for all taxis to switch to compressed natural gas, which is generally less harmful to the environment. According to the World Health Organization, New Delhi has the most polluted air of the nearly 1,600 cities around the world that it surveyed. The new measures are testament to the pressing needs to combat pollution, and follow the historic climate talks in Paris in December that committed nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, in Milan, air pollution has reached a record high, and cars and motorcycles were banned from city streets for 6 hours a day for three days during the first week of January. Rome also restricted traffic, enacting its own version of the odd-even rule this past week. The initiatives in Milan and Rome come at a time when European cities are beginning to aggressively scale back on the use of automobiles. Milan has proclaimed an incremental approach to expel cars from the city center. In Paris, motorists are to be completely barred from the River Seine by the summer of 2016, and all non-electric or hybrid vehicles are to be purged from Paris streets by 2020. Similar efforts have been endorsed in Madrid, Brussels, and Dublin.
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Bike to work without the smog: the Clean Ride Mapper helps Canadian cyclists find quieter, less polluted bike routes

In urban canyons where tall buildings on both sides occlude sunlight, pollution, too, is prevented from dispersing. The Clean Ride Mapper is an interactive map that allows cyclists to choose quieter cycling routes with reduced traffic and pollution levels. After inputting starting point and destination, users are shown three color-coded routes—green being the cleanest (as measured by cumulative exposure to nitrogen dioxide and ultrafine particles from fuel combustion), blue the most direct, and red the quietest as gauged by average traffic density the cyclist is likely to encounter. The map is powered by a dataset of air quality indices acquired over four years using $60,000 air-quality sensors attached to bicycles ridden by Montreal residents. While the routes occasionally overlap, there are times where cyclists must choose between an expedient journey or a roundabout ride for the sake of reducing pollutant deposits in the lungs. Maria Hatzopoulou, the creator of Clean Map Rider, claims that these detours are rarely longer than one kilometer (0.6 miles). Assistant professor of civil engineering at McGill University, Hatzopoulou created the online tool for cyclists in Toronto and Montreal as a project for the Transportation and Air Quality Research Group. “On certain days, some of Montreal’s most popular cycling paths, such as the one along the Lachine Canal, are also the most polluted because of wind patterns and proximity to highways,” a news release from the university stated. Considering its on-the-go user base, an obvious shortcoming of the fledgling tool is that there is no smartphone app, and users must click around—with repeated zooming in and out—to approximate their origin and destination rather than inputting an exact address. However, the map’s finer points are in the social pressure it exerts on cyclists to contemplate the smog they inhale every day. Clean Ride Mapper’s news release further cautions that traffic intersections fraught with idling cars also tend to be epicenters of pollution in cities. A similar project led by Columbia University in partnership with New York’s local NPR station, is being executed in New York City, whereby dozens of cyclists will be recruited to don air-quality sensors to accumulate data on bikers’ exposure to air pollution.
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Scientists say Beijing will be covered in a cloud of air pollution for 16 more years

The air in Beijing, China is dirty, and a new report suggests it won't be getting cleaner any time soon. Beijing residents received the grim news from the Beijing Municipal Research Institute of Environmental Protection regarding the city's air pollution levels. Following studies done by the institute, researcher Pan Tao has estimated the return of safe air pollution levels in 2030. The World Health Organization has stated in the past that the concentration of PM2.5, particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less per cubic meter, should not exceed 35 micrograms per cubic meter. In 2013, however, the level of PM2.5 in Beijing measured 89.5 micrograms per meter.
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Designed in Chicago, Made in China: Blair Kamin, Chicago designers mull Chinese urbanization

Blair Kamin convened a panel of designers at the Chicago Architecture Foundation last Wednesday for a discussion around themes explored in his recent series “Designed in Chicago, Made in China,” in which the Chicago Tribune architecture critic assessed the effects of that country’s rapid development on urbanism and design. “It’s often said that architecture is the inescapable art,” Kamin said to lead off the talk. “If that’s true then China’s urbanization is the inescapable story.” Joining Kamin were Jonathan D. Solomon, associate dean at the School of Architecture at Syracuse University; Thomas Hussey of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will; and Silas Chiow, SOM’s China director. The event was part of the Tribune's "Press Pass" series. If you haven’t read Kamin's series, you should. It examined contemporary Chinese cities and some U.S. designers thereof, giving special attention to trends in three categories: work, live, and play. Photographer John J. Kim illustrated with visuals. “In regards to street life and public space,” said SOM’s Hussey, “there can be a lack of an attitude towards it.” Long Chinese “megablocks” in Shanghai’s soaring Pudong district facilitate an urbanism not on the street, which few Americans would find walkable, but it has given rise to a kind of vertical urbanism within mixed-use towers and urban malls. Hussey pointed to SOM’s plan for a new financial district in the port area of Tianjin, China’s fourth largest city, which seeks to restore the street life present in Chinese cities before rapid modern development. And while Chinese cities are growing up, they’re also growing out. Ralph Johnson of Perkins + Will reminded the audience that in the absence of property taxes, Chinese municipalities make money for new development by selling off land. That creates a ripple effect of rising property values and a pressure to sell that is devouring arable farmland. That trend’s not likely to slow down, said SOM’s Silas Chiow, since part of China’s national strategy to turn the largely manufacturing nation into a consumer country is to continue its rapid urbanization. That pressure helped produce China’s enviable mass transit systems and light rail connectivity, but also a homogeneity of design that some have called dehumanizing. Height limits, uniform standards for south-facing units and other design requirements that by themselves improve standard of living can breed sprawling, cookie-cutter developments that are easy to get lost in. Still, housing projects in China don’t carry the social stigma that they do in the U.S., commented a few panel members, in part because they’ve brought modern amenities to so many. Where China’s urbanization goes from here, however, is an open question. Images of smog-choked skylines remind some of Chicago in 1900, but the situation is not a perfect analogue. For one, the problem of carbon pollution is far more urgent now than it was then, and its sources far more potent. “Will China be the death of the urban world,” asked Kamin at the panel’s close, “or its savior?”
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Meet Wendy, HWKN’s pollutant-fighting pavilion at MoMA PS1

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Wendy will eat the smog of the equivalent of 260 cars this summer

"I cannot wait for the data to come in so we can show people," said Matthias Hollwich, a principal of the Manhattan-based architecture firm HWKN. Hollwich is talking about the air quality monitoring system that will be hooked up to Wendy, the 3,000 square-foot star-shaped pavilion HWKN is currently installing in the courtyard of MoMA PS1 for the annual Young Architect's Program. Because PS1's Kraftwerk exhibition occupied the museum's courtyard until May 14th, HWKN only had six weeks to build Wendy, which will not only house a pool, a misting station, a water canon, an elevated dj booth and an exhibition space, it will "eat" smog all summer long thanks to a special little ingredient called TiO2. Developed by Cristal, a titanium dioxide products manufacturer, and Glen Finkel at PURETi, TiO2 is a titanium nanoparticle that, when activated by the sun, engages in photocatalytic oxidation, a chemical process that safely and instantly oxidizes organic matter at the molecular level and converts it into water vapor and trace amounts of CO2.  Since TiO2 is the catalyst, it's not consumed in the process. When it's applied to a building, a road or, in this case, a huge outdoor pavilion, its smog-fighting properties last for a minimum of five years. And because the water vapor washes away, the treated surfaces stay dramatically cleaner than their untreated counterparts. There are several brands of titanium dioxide coating on the market, but Finkel claims that PURETi's award-winning formula is the best because it doesn't come from a powder that’s mixed in or melted down, but from a liquid (99% water, 1% mineral content) so thin, clear and durable it can bond to virtually any surface, including fabric, glass and stone. It also requires less light to function than any known competitor, and is the only photocatalytic surface treatment known to work on the north side of a building in the shade. To maximize the surface area onto which TiO2 can be sprayed, HWKN created an intricate cluster of pointed shapes and employed structural engineers from Knippers Helbig, who worked for one month to develop a "totally reinvented" cross bracing system to hold the shape of the TiO2-treated PVC-based fabric from Botex(they were originally going to use nylon but it sags over time). “Normally when you have tensile structures it has a curve, and that has been done,” said Hollwich. “We wanted to do something formally different, so the cones are wrapped around the cross bracing which gives it its stealth form.” Surrounding Wendy with scaffolding was an aesthetic choice as much as it was a structural necessity. "The fabric is being pulled from the core to the edges and to be able to hold that edge we needed the scaffolding. The form of Wendy is also the structural system.” The whole framework is held in place by forty 5-foot-long temporary ground screws by Krinner that can be unscrewed in September when the pavilion is taken down. Using an equation based on the amount of nano particles sprayed onto Wendy, the estimated sun exposure and the average pollutants generated by local Long Island City traffic, HWKN calculated that over the course of the summer Wendy's paint job will clean up pollutants from the equivalent of 260 cars. If it sounds too good to be true, the only downside of TiO2 seems to be that it's expensive, though a little bit does go a long way—one gallon can cover 4,000 square feet. Still, at 70 cents per square-foot it's no surprise that Pureti's main clients aren't homeowners, but NASA and other large institutions like Los Angeles Community College, the 2015 Milan Expo, and office buildings in London. Hollwich sayid he's "surprised that the whole world isn't using it, because it's really magical," adding that he hopes the high visibility of Wendy will encourage more people to use TiO2 in everything from buildings and roads to textiles. In fact, MoMA will be selling t-shirts and totes sprayed down with TiO2, and after the summer programming is over Wendy herself will be cut apart and sewn into smog-fighting bags.
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Robert Moses, Atlantic Yards & Air Pollution

Almost exactly a month ago, the Bloomberg administration released a study called the "New York City Community Air Survey." Years in the making, it was heralded as the first comprehensive study of the city's air quality ever undertaken, with results that are shocking if not obvious. As the map of particulate matter above shows—and as many of us already knew—the city can be a pretty gross place to live and breathe. There are plenty more maps like this, but they all basically come to two conclusions: Where there are cars and oil boilers, there is pollution. However, the wonk in us saw something particularly interesting: Outside of Manhattan—where congestion is a whole other animal (hence hope for congestion pricing)—the pollution tracks pretty heavily along the expressways built by none other than the Power Broker himself. We even built a handy GIF (after the jump!) to illustrate this. There is one notable exception, that big brown spot in the middle of Brooklyn, which is why we're bringing this up now. Earlier this week, the Atlantic Yards Report reported that street closures are imminent around the Atlantic Yards site, which would presumably exacerbate traffic in the area. This has long been a concern surrounding the project, back when the EIS was just an EIS and not the basis for a Supreme Court lawsuit. But as the map and GIF above illustrate, congestion—both vehicular and nasal—were a problem at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues long before Bruce Ratner, and probably even Robert Moses, showed up. Now, as more streets are closed and the traffic only gets worse, the pollution is likely to follow. Just imagine how bad it will be on game nights?