Exhaust fumes contain harmful fine and ultrafine particles

Outdoor vacuum cleaner promises to remove lethal exhaust particles from air

Image credit: Ilya Plekhanov

Dutch inventors have unveiled a giant outdoor vacuum cleaner that can remove health-damaging fine pollution particles from the air.

The device created by Dutch start-up Envinity Group uses a system of patented filters capable of removing 100 per cent of fine particles (2.5 µm in diameter) and up to 95 per cent of ultrafine particles (less than 0.1 µm in diameter).

These types of particles, originating from industrial process and burning fossil fuels, are so small they get deposited in the lungs and can even cross into the bloodstream. They contribute to serious health problems including neurological damage, lung disease and inflammation. Especially the ultrafine particles, which are less than 100 nanometres in diameter, are extremely difficult for the body to get rid of.

Seeing that the world is not abandoning technology producing these types of harmful pollutants quickly enough, the Dutch team decided to develop a device that can give authorities a tool to make a difference in air quality and subsequently the health of people living in polluted areas.

The 8m-long cannon-like device sucks in a stream of air from a 300m radius, which is then guided through a five-step filtration process. In one hour, the device can clean up to 800,000 cubic metres of air. Vertically, the effect can be felt up to an altitude of 7km.

The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN), which tested the prototype, confirmed the results.

According to the World Health Organisation, about 90 per cent of European residents are breathing air with potentially carcinogenic levels of fine and ultrafine particles. In Africa, pollution contributes more to health problems than malnutrition or dirty water.

“The system is not only revolutionary, but also the only one of its kind in the world,” Envinity Group says on its website. “Envinity Group is making it possible for governments and businesses to protect their environment against the ‘silent killers’ that are fine and ultrafine particles, and to stop worrying about dramatic economic effects.”

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