Cycling against smog

Published on 3 July 2017 by Hilary Staples

The bike is an environmentally friendly and healthy mode of transport, we all know that. Dutch artist and designer Daan Roosegaarde goes one step further. In May 2017 he presented the Smog Free Bicycle, a bike that is also to purify the air around the cyclist.
The Smog Free Bicycle is to suck in polluted air, purify it and release clean air around the cyclist

The Smog Free Bicycle is to suck in polluted air, purify it and release clean air around the cyclist

Smog Free Bicycle

Just imagine cycling through heavy traffic. As you're pedalling, your bike sucks in the polluted air, purifies it and releases clean air around you. That's the idea behind the Smog Free Bicycle by Daan Roosegaarde and his team of designers and engineers. The bike is still only a concept, but the technology is already up and running - albeit on a larger scale - in the Smog Free Tower which is currently being installed in a number of cities in China.

The Smog Free Tower is basically a 7-metre tall vacuum cleaner that purifies 30,000 cubic metres of air per hour through positive ionization. The tower uses about the same amount of electricity as an electric kettle. The fine dust particles can be collected and up-cycled, e.g. into diamonds or Smog Free Jewellery. It's all part of the Smog Free Project, a quest to clear cities in China and around the globe of smog.

How does the Smog Free Bicycle work?

The Smog Free Bicycle purifies the air on a nano-level. It catches fine dust particles that are forty times smaller than a hair, but that are extremely dangerous when they reach one's lungs. The bike uses the same technology as the Smog Free Tower which was developed in collaboration with the Dutch company ENS Technology. It doesn’t use a filter system, but positive ionization. Ventilators draw in polluted air. The fine dust particles in the air receive a positive charge and are attracted and captured by a negatively charged dust removal plate. Once the particles touch the plate, they attach themselves to the surface. The particles bind together and are collected.

Availability

So why a Smog Free Bicycle? “The bike is part of the Dutch DNA of course, and Beijing and other cities in China used to be bike cities. We want to bring back the bicycle as a cultural icon of China and as the next step towards smog free cities," Roosegaarde explains. He hopes China's bike share programmes which are becoming increasingly popular - in the Beijing region alone there are more than 1.1 million share bikes! - will be interested in his Smog Free Bicycle.

The air-purifying bike follows Roosegaarde's ethos of making people part of the solution instead of the problem. If you are interested in getting a Smog Free Bicycle, then you'll have to be patient. Roosegaarde hopes to have a prototype up and running in 8 to 12 months time, so it will be some time before it's actually available on the market. The good news is that there are plans to bring out a 'smog free kit' that can be mounted on your existing bike, so you won't need to buy a whole new bike.

Solution?

Roosegaarde is realistic enough to realise that one tower and a few bikes will not solve China's air pollution problem. “The real solution is green energy, electric cars etc. But I want to make things that have an impact now. I believe that is the role of the artist and designer, to question and to come up with ideas. [...] Smog free bikes are an exciting idea that will hopefully activate communities towards creating greener cities.”

Earlier projects by Roosegaarde include the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path (2014), the world’s first glow-in-the-dark cycle path that was inspired by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night.

 
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