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China has a Tall Tool to Fight Pollution

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PHOTO BY FRED DUFOUR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

China has a tall tool to fight pollution. A 100-meter (328-foot) smog-sucking tower has improved air quality in Xi'an, a city in the northern province of Shaanxi that relies on industrial coal burning, according to the South China Morning Post. The success of the prototype tower was confirmed by preliminary results released earlier this year. Project plans for bigger, more robust towers are now being considered in other cities such as Guanzhong, Hebei and Henan.

“The results are quite encouraging,” Cao Junji, the scientist in charge of the prototype project, told the South China Morning Post. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, where Mr. Cao works, funded the US$2 million project. He says the tower can purify more than 10 million cubic meters (353 million cubic feet) of air each day, and notes there was a 15 percent reduction of the most harmful particles during heavy pollution days. The tower scrubs smog through layers of filters, then puffs the clean air back into the atmosphere.

With this proof of concept in place, the team is one step closer to erecting more and larger towers, including one that's 500 meters (1,640 feet). “The influence of one system is small,” Mr. Cao told Nature. “We need multiple systems so that significant reduction of air pollution concentration can be achieved.”

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