Dutch Designer to Make Diamonds out of Smog

Dutch Designer to Make Diamonds out of Smog


A new initiative in Beijing will seek to suck smog out of the air and transform it into diamonds.

Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde has devised a solution to air pollution in one of the world's most populous cities - a solution that sounds like it's drawn straight from Hollywood. Roosegaarde says he has an agreement with Beijing's leaders to test a prototype in a city park next year: a vacuum tower that will suck in smog, cleaning the air. The idea doesn't end there - the designer intends to then transform that smog into diamonds.

The vacuum tower would work by attracting smog particles with an electromagnetic field. "By creating a field of ions, all the particles on the nano scale get positively charged," said Roosegaarde, "therefore when the ground is negatively charged, you can drag them to the ground, and purify the air - 75 percent, 80 percent more clean. The great thing about the technology is that is safe. It's already being used in hospitals and it's very energy-friendly, so to have 30,000 cubic meters of clean air purified, it only uses like 30 Watts, which is like a light bulb."

Roosegaarde explained that this technology would create "corridors" of clean air that would allow sunlight to shrine through. His Beijing prototype will produce immediate results.

"We started to look at the smog particles and realized that most of it exists out of carbon," Roosegaarde said. "And what happens when you put carbon under a lot of pressure for two or three weeks, you get... diamonds. We are taking a thousand cubic meters of smog air and compressing this in a sort of smog ring, and there will be different versions, so if we compress it really, really a lot, you get like a real diamond-diamond. The largest series will be that we compress it a little bit less so it gets crystallized, so you still see it's smog, but it's beautiful and by sharing or selling a diamond ring like that, a smog ring, you donate a thousand cubic meters of clean air to the city of Beijing."

While Roosegaarde didn't delve further into the details, it is reasonable to assume that this won't be some magic way to create "free" diamonds. There exist energy and equipment requirements for producing synthetic diamonds, which currently represent approximately 2% of the gem-quality diamond market.

Source: Euronews


That's...actually a pretty brilliant idea, if it works. Helps Beijing, and gives you a large pile of shiny things to boot.
I can't wait to see if this thing works.

Sounds too good to be true. What will they think of next? Turning AIDS into teddy bears?

Sounds like something straight out of Red Mars. Whilst it will be good to get rid of some of the smog I think it would be better to address the problems that are creating it in the first place, such as industrial processes and cars.

Scarcely few people think of innovative (industrial) design when they think of the Dutch, so I'm glad this is getting some coverage. My little home country is very good at thinking outside of the box.

Whether it'll work remains to be seen of course. I doubt they'll be able to create a 'smog ring', but some tiny industrial-quality diamonds might be possible.

Interesting idea, but I am skeptical that 1000 square meters of smoggy air will contain enough raw carbon to create much of any sort of diamond. I am also curious about the implications of a large scale electromagnetic field in a high tech city. I'm looking forward to results after the prototype is implemented

You can get like, a diamond-diamond!

Totally man.

Just keep in mind, its a statement art thing. Reality check: not an energy efficient way clean Beijing's air or sequester its carbon pollution. Its too dilute, the volumes too large. Cleaning 30,000 cubic meters of air is far different from cleaning half a country. The US looked like bejing 100 years ago-- gotta have air pollution controls to prevent emission in the first place.

However, he is right, you can get like a diamond diamond.

Sounds like something straight out of Red Mars. Whilst it will be good to get rid of some of the smog I think it would be better to address the problems that are creating it in the first place, such as industrial processes and cars.

A fair point, but then you need to remember that we're human. We seek the cure rather than the prevention.
For such an intelligent species, we can be pretty dumb.

Li Mu:
[...] Whilst it will be good to get rid of some of the smog I think it would be better to address the problems that are creating it in the first place, such as industrial processes and cars.

And people. Gotta' adress the biggest problem of them all.

I'm skeptical of this... I think most modern smog is photochemical smog, which is made by components reacting in the air to form ground-level ozone (O3). The main component of smog isn't carbon based, but oxygen based. Sure some volatile organic compounds contribute to the creation of smog but they aren't the main component and I doubt you could get enough to make diamonds out of (not to mention that they aren't pure carbon which would be needed to make diamonds)

Unless you're planning on doing this next to 1800-1900's era coal power plants, which did put out a TON of unfiltered carbon ash into the air, this won't actually be that effective I don't think... Would have been nice to have at the start of the industrial revolution, but coal dust isn't the problem anymore, it's Ozone, and this fancy vacuum cleaner won't get rid of that so easily...Then again they are talking about China here. Not sure what, if any, pollution prevention techniques they use there. But all coal plants in modern countries use electrostatic precipitators to get the particulates out of their emissions BEFORE they leak to the atmosphere.

This sounds like an electrostatic precipitator (ESP), which is 100 year old technology. Like Sight Unseen said, these are great for catching coal dust but not very efficient for molecule-sized material such as ozone. If they want to capture dusts, they're much better off putting these on the tailpipes of their coal fired power plants. If they want to reduce smog they should raise standards on vehicle emissions to reduce NOx and SOx.

From the article:
"Roosegaarde acknowledges that projects like this are a way of drawing attention to the problem, rather than a viable solution to Beijing's air pollution. Real answers would require large scale efforts to create cleaner industry, cleaner cars, and adopt an altogether different lifestyle."

well, putting a bandaid on a broken leg is still better than nothing i guess. not treating the problem of course, but reminds us about just how bad smog gets sometimes and makes me appreciate for once living in smog free city.

I really doubt about their diamond production though. yes, coal can be compressed into diamond with enough pressure. your 30W vacuum is not enough pressure, not even close.


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