- Title: Car parks could become 'lungs of the city'
- Date: 26th January 2017
- Summary: BERT BLOCKEN, PROFESSOR OF BUILDING PHYSICS, EINDHOVEN UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY, LOOKING AT COMPUTER SIMULATIONS OF POLLUTION REDUCTION
- Embargoed: 9th February 2017 10:29
- Keywords: pollution air particles ionisation Eindhoven ENS Technology Daan Roosegaarde
- Location: EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS / BEIJING, CHINA / ANIMATION
- City: EINDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS / BEIJING, CHINA / ANIMATION
- Country: Netherlands
- Topics: Science
- Reuters ID: LVA00260PWVH7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A radical new scheme to tackle pollution in major cities by using car parks as the "lungs of the city" has been launched in Eindhoven.
Environmental innovation company ENS Technology has developed an air purification system which captures fine dust - particles smaller than 10 micrometres, known as PM10 - and uses positive ionisation to transform it into coarse dust, eliminating the risk of inhaling toxic particles.
Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and KU Leuven in Belgium have joined forces with ENS, producing air flow models and computer simulations of the centre of Eindhoven, the fifth most populated city in the Netherlands. These suggest that positioning ENS's mobile units inside the city's underground car parks could lead to reductions of up to half the concentration of these particles in the surrounding area, with resulting health benefits for residents and workers.
Fine dust particles are invisible to the naked eye and enter our nose and mouth undetected. They can lead to heart, brain and respiratory diseases, having invaded our bloodstream.
Coarse particles, by contrast, do not enter our lungs because they are blocked by filters in our nose.
According to ENS director Lia van de Vorle, because the ventilation systems of underground car parks are in contact with the streets and shopping zones above, they directly affect air quality in the city centre.
"If you take the car parks and big official buildings as the lungs of the city, the units suck off the polluted air and blow out clean air. That's the idea behind it," she told Reuters.
"The system works based on positive ionisation," explained Roel Gijsbers, ENS technical manager. "Polluted air goes in, sucked by a fan. We force a substantial amount of air inside the cabinet where it will be ionised. Once the air is ionised, the particles in the air are forced to collect on the surface, and on that collected surface fine dust is transformed into coarse dust."
Ionisation occurs when polluted air passes through a strong electric field.
The team says its first application in a single underground car park beneath a shopping mall generated a perceptible improvement in the air quality around the car park over a two-year period.
TU/e and KU Leuven Professor of Building Physics & Wind Engineering Bert Blocken and his team have helped ENS target their campaign, by creating a detailed computational grid of Eindhoven city centre which covered an area of 5.1 square kilometres and included 16 underground car parks.
They simulated the effect on the concentration of particulate matter in the air, first by reducing particles inside the underground car parks by 99 air purification systems, and then by six times that amount - 594 systems. With 99 systems inside the car parks particulate matter concentrations outside the car parks were decreased locally by up to 10 percent.
With 594 air units, the effect was far more marked. Up to a kilometre away from an underground car park, particulate matter reductions of at least 10 percent occurred, and in some locations by as much as 50 percent.
"Not only, of course, in the garages you get a large beneficial effect, so large reductions - 60, 70, 80 percent in particulate matter. But even outside, if you install sufficient amount you get in the surrounding streets a reduction by half of the concentrations of particulate matter, which is quite a lot and more than we expected," said Blocken.
Simulations do have limitations. For example, the force and direction of the wind, can be particularly influential, but the researchers are confident that their approach is an effective way of improving air quality in city centres.
Van de Vorle said the ENS method is superior to air filter systems.
"We make coarse dust from fine dust and it will never be fine dust again. That's the difference from filters. All the filters you have they take the fine dust, but if you take the filter out the fine dust is still there."
Gijsbers added: "The technology is plug and play, so it can be in effect placed anywhere. Specifically in our project 'The Lungs of the City' we focused on parking garages because they have a very large density in a city centre, but it could also be well applied, for example, in public buildings or large infrastructural works, street furniture, all that kind of existing infrastructure in the city."
Van der Vorle says ENS hopes to eventually implement air purification systems in infrastructural structures such as tunnels, train and bus stations, viaducts and traffic junctions. ENS has also created larger mobile units which they position at traffic junctions.
The system can also catch carbon particles and ENS now plans to adapt its technology to capture gases.
The company was involved in the design of Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde's Smog Free Tower, the world's largest air purifier, which opened in Beijing last September. The seven-metre-high tower inhales dirty air and cleans it to create zones of healthier air.
The research by TU/e and KU Leuven was published in the Journal of Wind Engineering & Industrial Aerodynamics in October.
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Video restrictions: parts of this video may require additional clearances. Please see ‘Business Notes’ for more information.