Putting ambient air removal solutions to the test

**Are there solutions that aim to remove pollution from ambient air, and how would you measure their effectiveness? **How might you test for efficacy in both simulated and real-world situations, while also taking into account energy efficiency, cost, and the potential for secondary environmental impacts?

Before I mix metaphors, are you talking about fine particulate matter (PM2.5), or about VOCs/SOx/NOx as some of the other post discuss?



Hi @KeithDPatch! Thanks for the follow-up question. For now, at this point in the prize design process, we’re keeping it open to all sources of air pollution (either PM or aerosols, or both) for our experts to weigh in on how to best test their removal.

@jamesburbridge , @TerryMulligan , @JessicaYoon
Hi all - To introduce myself, I’ve spent the past 2 years developing solutions to tackle ambient air pollution (Particulate matter removal without use of filters) at low cost in developing countries. Here’s a short video CNN shot with me about my oldest technologies. We’ve actually been operating in stealth mode since this project has been bootstrapped entirely. We’re currently installed in Mumbai, India and work out of Atlanta (Georgia Tech), Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and have on ground teams in India. Would love to be able to work towards the XPrize competition and speak to relevant people to disclose some of our tech. Eagerly look forward to hearing from you!

CNN Video: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/28/health/angad-daryani-tomorrows-hero/index.html

LinkedIn about our project: https://www.linkedin.com/company/praancompany/

@JessicaYoon Pollutant removal from ambient air is inherently less efficient than removing it in its concentrated form from tailpipes (catalytic converters, diesel particle traps), smokestacks (baghouses, selective catalytic reduction [SCR]), gasoline refueling (vapor recovery), etc. And filtering air before it gets into classrooms, homes, bus and car cabins, etc. And limiting agricultural burning to days when atmospheric conditions are more dispersive and less likely to impact urban centers. These are the approaches we’ve successively taken in California. While ambient air removal makes more sense for pollution from uncontrolled upwind sources and less controllable sources such as construction and wind-blown dust, an enormous volume of air would need to be treated.

Take for example Los Angeles County with its relatively dense population in an air basin with considerably less atmospheric dispersion.

Volume of ambient air per day: 300 m inversion x 3 air exchanges per day (assume 3 m/sec wind and 80 km air basin length) x 10(+4) km2 land area / 3 (exclude mountains and deserts) = 3x10(+12) m3

Volume of air inhaled per day: 10m population x 10,000 liters inhaled per adult per day = 10(+8) m3

So 30,000 times the volume would need to treated than is breathed each day
(higher if one takes into account lower breathing rates for children; lower taking into account filtration concentrated in densely populated public spaces)

Mass of particles to be removed per day: 50 ug/m3 average daily PM2.5 (LA in the 1960s, Beijing and New Delhi are 2 and 3 times higher, respectively) x 3x10(+12) m3 = 150 tonnes

2012 Los Angeles County emission estimates are 156 tons = 140 tonnes per day, so I think my calculations are in the ballpark when taking into account emission inventory uncertainties, 2012 vs 1960 air quality, background PM, etc.

The main problem of ambient air quality in Asia is in the rural areas where communities still rely on fuel wood to meet their energy needs as its freely available. Due to use of low energy efficient and non smokeless stoves, the indoor pollution in the rural houses is even worst that the highly polluted cities like Delhi.
There is an urgent need to promote energy efficient smokeless stove technologies in those areas and also introduce clean energy technologies like solar, bio-gas (animal and human waste).

Thanks @Adaryani , @bartc , @Mehta for your interesting inputs.

Hello @hannusalmela , @gzeg , @Lyz , @csabine , @chrisfrider
Given your experience in the field, we would love to hear your thoughts on removing ambient air pollution.

Hi JessicaYoon–

In that case, somebody needs to correct the bold text above:

eliminate or a dramatically reduce the amount of air pollution related to fine particulate matter

I’d also like to ask @Alessandra , @mbanu , @OzFeron , @John_Kay and @dgoldber if you’ll can help us answer @JessicaYoon questions? Thank you.

Vertical Forest, Smog Free Towers, Air cleaning buildings, Electric Self Driving Cars, Air Purifying Clothes, Spider webs, Pollution Absorbing Street Furniture and Algae Curtains (https://disruptiveenvironmentalist.com/17-innovative-ways-to-reduce-air-pollution-in-our-cities/). Are these feasible solutions to reduce Ambient Air Solution?

If Yes; how do we test the efficacy of these solutions in real-world situations, while also taking into account energy efficiency, cost, and the potential for secondary environmental impacts? @hopkepk , @devinny , @peterstyring , @oscarr , @jwangjun , @kchance , @mskoehle We would love to hear your thoughts. Please join the discussion

Fair point @KeithDPatch. Let me rephrase:
How could we measure and validate solutions focused on removal of gaseous and particulate pollutants from ambient air? Are we talking about measuring actual captured pollutant in a real world test (seems nearly impossible given the sheer number of variables and interactions happening in the atmosphere?) or a relative improvement over a baseline in a laboratory? The latter seems more plausible, but maybe I’m missing something. Or is there a whole other way to test these types of solutions that we aren’t seeing?

Hi @bartc, good to hear from you. We have a pretty good sense of the audacity of what we are asking for here, but I think this is the only way to directly get at the challenge of directly dealing with LDD of air pollution, no? The more I research this problem, the more convinced I am that we need more solutions to deal with already released pollution. Further, while I don’t believe a single solution will emerge as a cure-all for urban air pollution, the combination of smaller solutions could amplify each other’s effectiveness and lead to meaningful reductions in local and LDD air pollution. It might be wishful thinking, but that is where the best XPRIZEs tend to live, IMO.

Building an air pollution sucking equipment at the location of the pollution is one of the ways. This equipment will remove the polluted air and only clean will be available.

Hi @jamesburbridge, there are various e.g. US EPA analysis methods, such as EPA Method 5 for particulates, that provide legit data on gross and net pollution levels.

These, or modified EPA etc. methods, provide legit methods to validate real-world performance of pollution control methods.

@jamesburbridge The global atmosphere is very efficient at removing health-damaging particle and gaseous pollution over the time scale of hours to days through rain out, chemical reactions (ultimately resulting in CO2 and H2O), and deposition on surfaces. Because pollution is relatively short-lived (compared to greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane), it’s the fresh emissions that affect public health. Thus, pollution prevention will have immediate benefits, and it’s much more efficient than ambient air removal, which has issues with cost, energy usage, scale, and waste disposal. New efforts on the air pollution problem seem better aimed at reducing costs, increasing effectiveness, and scaling up emission control technologies applied at the smokestack, truck exhaust, etc. for developing countries, as well as investing in monitoring technologies that would aid enforcement efforts by identifying the ~10% of super-emitting sources that appear to be responsible for ~50% of the total emissions across many sources types.

Since much of the exposure to air pollution occurs in confined spaces during cooking (esp. women and young children in India and Africa), greater deployment of efficient stoves that can take advantage of local agricultural waste is needed.

Pollution removal efforts would be advantageous in a few situations. Since much of the exposure to air pollution in cities occurs while driving or living in homes close to busy roadways, in-cabin or whole-home filters could be very effective. Also, a vehicle-mounted technology to remove road dust, brake wear, and tire wear has the advantage of removing concentrated pollutants near the source before they expose the public.

Dear X-Men, and X-Women, There MIGHT be a valid research option in the making of air filters for both big industrial sources, and home and personal face masks, which we overlooked. Recently Nanotechnology (the art/science of making very SMALL USEFUL THINGS) took the element of Gold, and made a Gold leaf sheet of it only TWO ATOMS in thickness. So, what if we could use such super thin sheets of Gold as various types of filters, to cheaply say, de-salt sea water to turn it into drinking water, or remove sulfur and mercury from coal burning electric power plant chimneys, or to fully burn up all carbon particulates from large diesel engine motor vehicles, or to make face masks that half the population of China can wear, to keep from choking to death on the smoke and soot from their coal burning electric power plants? Look, this new type of Gold leaf is just TWO ATOMS thick, so even a small amount of Gold COULD go a long way to make such special filters. And, when these filters wear out, just melt them down to re-cast into new filters over and over! Gold has very great tensile strength, and is electrically conductive, and, if you shine a strong light through Gold leaf, it makes a BEAUTIFUL green light. By passing such electric currents through such filters, it might be possible to cheaply remove salt from sea water, or mercury from smoke stack emissions, both salt and Mercury are electrically conductive. And, perhaps by using modern laser technology to project green laser light through such filters, that light could be used to separate sulfur from the smoke. And by applying an electric charge through the gold filters on diesel engine vehicles exhaust, we could have a new kind of afterburner that could completely burn up the carbon particulates, aka SOOT, that causes a LOT of diverse health problems for anyone who inhales it. Anyway, that could be a new direction in your air filter research. That covers it.

Great comments @bartc & @rgschreib . Definitely some good points to consider for the ultimate prize design.

For Indoor air quality control.
I have a patented solution to deal with indoor pollution. I designed a drone based device, measures 8"x 4" ( 20cm x 10cm ) small autopilot drone. Under the drone there is a system of TIo2 charged plates and with UV irritated tube and Ions generator and O3 generator. User can command the drone remotely ( using Wi-Fi ) and watch its action live when he is away from home. The drone takes off and shower the rooms with billions of negative Ions which attach to polluted air particulates make them heavier. Polluted air participated to ground due to extra ions. UV activates TIo2 then converts bad air and bacteria to harmless Co2 and water. And O3 eliminates bad odors. By the time user returns home, the rooms become free from polluted air. Also, the drone equipped with a set of high voltage screens that kills mosquitoes in contact.