London students have come up with a lava lamp-style chimney designed to remove toxic particles from the city's most polluted streets.
Pluvo is a 13ft high transparent tube with an internal fan. This sucks in the surrounding air and uses a water mist to remove any toxic particles before releasing it back out again. The newly-released air could be up to 60% cleaner than before it went in, according to the designers.
Created by masters' students at Imperial College London and Royal College of Art, the Pluvo chimneys would be made from toughened glass and powered by piggybacking off existing sources such as lamp-posts, phone boxes and electric vehicle charging stations.
Designers Nick Hooton, Lewis Hornby and Claudia Arnold envisage rows of the chimneys being placed along London's most polluted roads such as Oxford Street and Regent Street. "Pluvo is a new type of street furniture," said Hooton. "It should have quite a significant impact on the level of air quality on London's streets."
The system uses "wet-scrubbing" technology in which water collides and combines with particulates to remove them from the air, working on a similar principle to rain. The technology is also said to be effective in cleaning toxins such as nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 particulates, with replaceable filter cartridges being used to soak up the debris. Initial calculations suggest that the method could clean two cubic metres of air per second.
Pluvo is being patented and a working prototype is being built. And funding could be gained via hologram advertisements that would float inside the chimneys and be highlighted against the mist.