Now There’s a Bus Stop That Kills Smog

Hong Kong engineers and urban designers have created an outdoor air purifier that looks like a transit hub.

(Photo: Sino Group)

Apr 9, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Hong Kong may be known for its breathtaking skyline, but thanks to a noxious smog problem, its skyscrapers and mountains aren’t always visible. Pollution in the Chinese territory has gotten so bad that last summer a company came up with a fake, smog-free backdrop for frustrated tourists to pose in front of for pictures. But what if the toxic particulate matter coming out of all those tailpipes could be sucked away by bus stops?

That’s the inspiration behind the City Air Purification System, a prototype device that was installed in Hong Kong’s busy Wanchai neighborhood in late March. The gigantic solar-powered purifier resembles a bus stop, but it sucks dirty air in and filters out fine particulate pollution. It then sends cleaned air back out into the neighborhood and is able to monitor real-time air quality in the area around it.

(Photo: Sino Group)

Jimmy Tong, one of the engineers at Arup, the firm that developed the device, told Forbes that initial data shows the purifier is reducing pollution in Wanchai. There’s been a 30 percent to 70 percent reduction in particulate matter, according to Tong. Given those results, Tong seemed optimistic that the bus-stop purifiers could be expanded to locations throughout Hong Kong.

The purifier is just the latest in a slew of innovations that are designed to counteract the amount of pollution in the air. From smog-eating poems on the sides of buildings to titanium-covered tiles, plenty of experimental projects are popping up that are designed to kill the toxic particulate matter. Of course, the real solution, as has been seen in Beijing and Paris, is to reduce the number of cars on the roads. But in the meantime, let’s hope ideas like this one help residents and tourists breathe a little easier.