These days, the new move in the game of life has been finding creative ways to get pollution out of the city. It wasn’t so long ago that a creative engineer from Europe moved to China to build their first de-polluting tower, which was quite successful. Ever since then, innovators have been trying to manifest this strategy in new ways. But few expected it would ever look like a billboard.
Well, it makes sense if you think about it – billboards already exist all over the place, so instead of needing to reserve, build, or occupy new spaces, these can just do this amazing work while serving their other purpose. That’s why this Dutch innovator designed the already existing structure to purify the surrounding air by eating up smog. The ad spaces attract nearby air pollutants by being coated with a specialized resin which converts them into oxygen when exposed to direct sunlight.
At 23 feet tall, each billboard is capable of filtering 75% of harmful PM2.5 and PM10 particles from the air around them. They use ion technology which results in very little electricity (harnessed only from wind power) required to power them – about the equivalent of an electric kettle. The end game? These billboards produce 30,000 cubic meters of clean air per hour, which is as much as 30 trees every 6 hours – and they have a lifespan of up to five years.
So, whose brilliant idea was this? Dutch engineer Daan Roosegaarde and his team, in partnership with the University of Monterrey. The inspiration came from an IKEA brand product: GUNRID curtains which have a mineral-based surface treatment of photocatalytic nanotechnology that cleanses airborne pollutants from indoor spaces.
Their first billboard has been set up in Monterrey, Mexico. The heavily-polluted city is nestled in a valley without much foliage, and the billboards are expected to compensate greatly fort his and for urban health in general.
“It was great to work with the [UDEM] students and take a problem and transform it into a potential,” says Roosegaarde. “I am really proud to see them go from academic research to a real project. I do not believe in utopia—a perfect solution—but protopia: step-by-step improving reality.”