Giant 'vacuum cleaner' that can purify atmosphere unveiled in Holland

The industrial filter can reportedly remove 100 per cent of toxic fine particles

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The Independent Online

Dutch inventors have unveiled a giant vacuum cleaner that they claim can purify the planet’s increasingly polluted atmosphere.

The industrial filter can reportedly remove 100 per cent of toxic fine particles from 800,000 cubic metres of air – the equivalent of nine Royal Albert Halls - per hour. 

Nine out of 10 people living in the EU are exposed to excessive levels of air pollution, according to the World Health Organisation.

"It's a large industrial filter about eight metres long, made of steel... placed basically on top of buildings and it works like a big vacuum cleaner," said Henk Boersen, a spokesman for the Envinity Group which unveiled the system in Amsterdam.

The system is said to be able to suck in air from a 300 metre radius, and from up to seven kilometres upwards. 

As well as all fine particles, it can treat 95 per cent of ultra-fine particles, the company said, referring to tests carried out by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) on its prototype.


Envinity Group partners (from left) Peter van Wees, Simon van der Burg and Tim Petter. (AFP/Getty Images)

"A large column of air will pass through the filter and come out clear," Mr Boersen told AFP, speaking on the sidelines of a major two-day offshore energy conference in Amsterdam.

Fine particles are caused by emissions from burning wood and other fuels as well as industrial combustion, and have "adverse effects on health," according to the European Environment Agency.

As for ultra-fine particles, they are released by emissions from vehicles as well as aeroplanes, according to Envinity, and can "damage the nervous system, including brain cells, and also cause infections."

Governments, businesses and airports are already interested in the project, Boersen said.

Another air-purifying system called the "Smog Free Tower" was installed in Beijing last month and launched by the Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde.

Using patented ozone-free ion technology, it can clean up to 30,000 cubic metres of air an hour as it blows past the tower, collecting more than 75 percent of the harmful particles, Studio Roosegaarde said in a statement.

Additional reporting by AFP.