Pollution study to use smog chambers

By Fang Yang Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-2 22:53:01

Chinese scientists are planning to build an atmospheric simulation facility to create artificial smog for anti-pollution research at Huairou district in Beijing, with an estimated investment of 500 million yuan ($81.4 million).

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) submitted an environmental project including the construction of "smog chambers" to the National Development and Reform Commission in 2010, said He Hong, the lead scientist in charge of the project's preparatory work, The Beijing News reported Sunday.

"The project was listed as 'alternative' and hasn't been approved yet," said He, a research fellow from the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences under the CAS.

The project, which is estimated to cost 500 million yuan, could help study the formation of particulate, photochemical smog and the cause of haze, according to He.

"It will help researchers study chemical reactions of different mixtures of pollutants by pumping them into the chambers and simulating various atmospheric conditions," Zhang Yuanxun, a professor of resources and environment at the CAS, told the Global Times.

Zhang said that while China has different levels of polluting industries, the combinations of air pollutants are more complicated. "The chambers will provide a precise understanding of the chemical reactions that give rise to most of the fine particulates in smog," he said.

According to The Beijing News, the chambers, each with a volume of about 300 cubic meters, will rival the major smog chambers in the world in terms of volume, including the European Photoreactor, Euphore.

"The larger the smog chamber, the better its simulation quality," Wang Gengchen, a research fellow with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the CAS, told the Global Times, adding that the existing smog chambers in China are relatively small.

Zhang believed that besides volume, it is more important to have precise scientific instruments to monitor the reactions. "The instruments will be the major expenses and take up more time," he said.

Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said that in combating air pollution, scientific research should be based on existing achievements in order to avoid wasting time and resources.

"While using scientific research to study the unknown, taking immediate measures on what we already know is equally important," Ma stressed. "We can't wait for the scientific results to curb pollution."

Zhang also believed that while the smog chambers could help study the theory, it will take a long time to be put into practice.

"The research results will help us know what pollution components should be controlled, but it will require additional studies in policy making," Zhang added.

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