Innovation That Matters

Air pollution or 'smog' causes millions of deaths each year | Photo source suraj kardile on Unsplash

Polish researchers blast pollution away with sound

Health & Wellbeing

Researchers in Poland are trialing a sound cannon to blast particulates in the air up to a higher, less dangerous altitude

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Spotted: Scientists in Poland have developed a new method for battling the country’s particulate pollution. They are testing a new device in the town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, where a heavy smog descends each winter as residents fire up their heating systems and chimneys belch out thick smoke. This device is a sound cannon that uses sound waves to push the smog out of harms way.

Resembling a large upside-down cone, the cannon burns a mixture of acetylene and air to create a shockwave that pushes the polluted air several hundred metres upwards. This reduces the concentration of harmful particulates lower down, where it is more dangerous. It also creates a loud sound every six seconds. However, townspeople claim this is a small price to pay for ridding the area of the dangerous smog.

During the trial, researchers will work out the best frequency to use for the blasts – as well as the precise duration and the time needed for the entire procedure. A mobile measurement station mounted on a drone is used to test the effect on air quality. The researchers estimate it will cost around 1,000-1,500 zloty (€220-€330) to run the device for one hour. Initial research has found that this is a long enough period to reduce the pollution by 15 to 30 per cent within a perimeter of two to three kilometres from the cannon. However, the effect only lasts for between one and three hours.

Despite the noise of the device, residents don’t seem to mind, with one telling AFP that “we can barely hear the sound,” and most feeling that the potential benefits outweigh such concerns. “We can’t air our flats because it stinks so much. So, if it can help, let them do the tests,” one resident explained.

According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution is the cause of around 4.2 million deaths every year. It is therefore no wonder that we are seeing a growing number of innovations aimed at tackling this scourge. This includes a playground that uses algae bioreactors to purify polluted air, and a cook stove that uses agricultural waste as fuel, avoiding the need to burn wood for cooking.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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