The Smog Free Tower: Twenty-three feet of pure, sleek smog eating loveliness

Looking like a cross between a spaceship and a giant accordion, this tower is the result of a collaboration between green tech companies in the Netherlands.

By Jeff Vasishta October 20, 2016

Looking like a cross between a spaceship and a giant accordion, award winning Dutch designer, Daan Roosegaarde has invented the Smog Free Tower. Twenty-three, sleek feet of pure smog eating loveliness. It’s the result of a collaboration between Roosegaarde, Delft Technology University and European Nano Solutions, a green tech company in the Netherlands.

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“It’s the largest smog vacuum cleaner in the world,” Roosegaarde told CNN. Partly funded through Kickstarter, the Smog Free Tower took just over two-and-a-half years to develop. Its pilot was unveiled last year in Rotterdam, where Roosegaarde’s design studio is based. But Beijing, with smog so thick you could almost walk on it, provided the inspiration.

“I distinctively remember looking out of my hotel window one day and simply not being able to see anything,” he says. “From one day to the next, the city had disappeared under a thick blanket of smog.”

By exchanging smog for clean air, the tower can purify the size of a football stadium per day.  Clearly there is no quick solution to solving the country’s escalating pollution problem but in a city where their youth sport designer air pollution masks, it’s made an impact. Showcased during Beijing Design week it was placed in the Chinese capital city. During one day in Beijing the Smog Buster collected the same amount of smog as it took two weeks to collect in the Netherlands. As if Beijing needed reminding that it has a problem.


“This is an issue that can’t be fixed overnight, nor with just one tower. We need a bottom-up effort, with both citizens and governments actively working for change,” Roosegaadre said. “My hope is that one day in 10 or 15 years, we’ll look back at it and find it obsolete. The pressing question is how are we going to get there? This is a start.”

He’s not alone. The Dutch designer, who recently won the Design Innovation Medal at the London Design Festival, has the backing of the Chinese Government which has asked him to take his project across the country, with four more stops after Beijing. The support comes amid the government’s reinforced efforts to tackle pollution, an integral part of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan released last March.

Throughout his tour, Roosegaarde has met with universities, schools and environmental organizations. “The goal is not only to offer a local, tangible solution to create clean parks,” he said, “but also setting a new sense of beauty—a clean future—through the sensory experience of clean air.”

A crazy fact about the smog tower is that while cleaning air it also produces jewelry. We kid you not! Roosegaarde and his team have figured out how to compress the captured particles into tiny “gemstones” which are then sealed in a resin cube and mounted onto rings and cufflinks. (Each stone is the result of about 1,000 cubic meters of filtered air.)

So there you have it, clean air and smog bling.  The man’s a genius.

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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