And what do you get when the carbon is compressed? Of course you get diamonds.

By Balthazar Malevolent


The tower is the brainchild of the Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde who looked out at his Beijing hotel window and realized the smog was so thick that he couldn't see the city. In Beijing, eight-year-olds are being diagnosed with lung cancer, and the filthy air reduced the life expectancy of residents by 15–16 years. "This is not the promising future we're hoping to see," says Roosegaarde. "This is terrifying."

This Tower Sucks Up Smog and Turns It Into Diamonds.

Roosegaarde and his team decided to build the world's largest air purifier: the Smog Free Tower. The tower they built, which was used in Rotterdam, Beijing, Tianjin and Dalian, sucks up to 30,000 cbm of polluted air per hour, cleans it at nano level — the particles of PM2.5, PM10 — and then releases the clean air back into town. (The tower boasts solar power.)

The air surrounding the tower is 55 to 75 per cent cleaner than the rest of the city.

Even when the gnarly, sooty particles are washed out of the air, they don't just vanish — they need to go somewhere. "In our studio, we had buckets of that disgusting material," Roosegaarde says. His team planned to throw it out when they had a eureka moment — they realized 42 per cent of the particles they collected were made of carbon. And what do you get when the carbon is compressed? Of course you get diamonds.

The tower filtered smog particles are compressed for 30 minutes, and transformed into black, boxy gems. The stones are then being used for rings and cufflinks, each with a pollution of 1,000 cubic metres. Roosegaarde states that some have used a smog ring as a ring for marriage. They are the ultimate conversion of waste to wonders: toxic pollution that has been turned into gemstones.

But Beijing is not the only filthy city out there. Roosegaarde heads to India. He plans to build the Nation-wide Smog Free Towers to help Delhi and other municipalities turn their dirty air into treasure objects.

He also partners with NGOs, states, students and tech firms to develop other approaches to help reduce air pollution in our cities. "The point is to connect new technology with creative thinking," Roosegaarde says. "If you start thinking about that, you can create so much more."

For their past jewelry collections, Rick Owens and Michele Lamy have been using carbon compressed diamonds. Rumors say that the designer has proposed to his future wife with a recycled diamond sterling silver ring.

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