In an attempt to fight air pollution, China has constructed an experimental air purifying tower, touted to be the world's biggest at a height of over 100 meters (328 feet). On severely polluted days, the researchers claimed that the tower managed to reduce the smog close to moderate levels.
Cao said that the tower requires very little power to run as it relies on solar energy.
One city that is notoriously known for heavy clouds of smog hovering over its skyline is Beijing.
By several measures, Beijing is experiencing its best air quality in at least five winters, the season when the air is usually the most noxious from coal burning for heat.
However the effect did not seem to be able to keep at an optimal level as it was entirely powered by electricity, and most of which is generated by coal-fired power plants in China. The tower effectively covered a 10 sq km area, and testing has shown a 15 percent reduction in PM2.5 particles in the area.
Cao and his team have set up over a dozen pollution monitoring stations in the area to test the impact of the tower on air quality. The hot air then rises through the tower; it is made to pass through multiple layers of cleaning filters and finally comes out as clean, breathable air.
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The Xian tower is noticeably taller than those in Beijing and other cities, and while they all take in polluted air and re-release it, the process is different for the newest tower.
The tower is situated in Xian in the Shaanxi province, where researchers from the Institute of Earth Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences continue to test it.
The tower's operators say, however, that the system still works in the cold months as coatings on the greenhouses enable the glass to absorb solar radiation at a much higher efficiency.
With regards to the size of the tower and its performance, Cao said, "The tower has no peer in terms of size...the results are quite encouraging". "I can't hear any wind going in or out", she said. The air quality did improve.
Those outside the radius have a different story to tell, however.
Fortunately, the tower in Xi'an is just the beginning of the bigger project that Cao and his colleagues initially planned. According to SCMP, the accompanying greenhouses would be able to cover 30 square kilometres (11.6 square miles) and potentially purify the air of a small city.