Students design 'plant backpack' to combat air pollution

January 18, 2016
A woman wears "The Plant Bag", a backpack fitted with a breathing mask connected to the pack which contains a plant on
A woman wears "The Plant Bag", a backpack fitted with a breathing mask connected to the pack which contains a plant on January 18, 2016 in Delft

Five Dutch students have hit on a unique idea to replace face masks used against air pollution, and are developing a "plant backpack" to give wearers instant fresh air.

"The bag allows fine particles to be filtered out and cleans the air," said Marnix de Kroon, the leader of the team.

"The Plant Bag" is fitted with a filter which takes in the outside air and sifts it through the roots of a plant housed inside the backpack before allowing the wearer to breathe it in.

Even though the idea is still in early stages, it won a Dutch design competition, and the students at TU Delft University have moved to the next stage of making a prototype.

"We are testing which plant will work the best, and it seems that aloe vera may be a possibility," De Kroon told AFP.

However, an expert from the Netherlands weather institute said such a design would not be very useful.

"The filter alone will sift out 99.9 percent of the ," the Dutch daily Trouw quoted the expert as saying.

De Kroon however insists that the plant will catch the smallest of the which can penetrate deep into the lungs and trigger varying health problems.

"This product may not take off very quickly in Europe, but cities like Beijing and Tehran, cities with serious pollution problems, will be our main market," he said.

In December, Beijing issued its first red pollution alert when levels of PM2.5 particles reached 350 micrograms per cubic metres. The World Health Organisation's recommended maximum exposure is 25.

Explore further: Beijing pollution soars but no red alert

Related Stories

Beijing pollution soars but no red alert

December 29, 2015

Parts of China's capital Beijing suffered air pollution more than 20 times recommended levels on Tuesday, but authorities refrained from issuing the highest smog alert.

Bad air 'plagued Beijing for nearly half of 2015'

January 5, 2016

Beijingers spent nearly half of 2015 breathing air that did not meet national standards, Chinese media reported Tuesday, as the city struggles to address a smog problem that has provoked widespread public anger.

Beijing says pollution lessened in 2015 despite smog alerts

January 5, 2016

Environmental authorities in Beijing say air quality improved in 2015, a year in which they issued the city's first two red smog alerts and showed a greater willingness to disrupt industry and ordinary people in search of ...

Italy approves new anti-pollution measures

December 30, 2015

Italy's centre-left government on Wednesday authorised local authorities to cut traffic speed limits by 20kph (12 mph) and office heating by two degrees in response to spikes in deadly air pollution.

Recommended for you

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2 / 5 (4) Jan 18, 2016
These children have failed to learn to make observations, draw logical conclusions and think for themselves.
1 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2016
what is the point of the idea of filtering the air with some "roots of a plant" in particular?
I think surely there must be a better way of doing it.
For example, why not use some kind of "wet sponge" that would at least be more readily reusable?
5 / 5 (2) Jan 19, 2016's depressing that something like this is even needed...dammit!
5 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2016
I can see this catching on in Asian markets. Stranger things have been sold there (heck, you can - or at least coul - buy canned air in Japan http://abcnews.go...;page=1)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.