Air pollution is an problem that doesn’t have a single solution. Tackling the growing issue of metropolitan emissions calls for a multi-faceted approach that incorporates technological advancements with pure out-of-the-box innovation. Delhi, the center of a perfect storm for air pollution, is implementing an experimental pollution counter-measure that has innovation in spades.

Delhi’s cityscape rests within an acrid haze largely in part due to a phenomenon known as temperature inversion, in which layers of cold air are trapped by a “lid” of warmer air. Because of this, the smoggy air in Delhi can’t disperse properly and ends up accumulating under the ceiling of warmer air. Researchers from MIT have come up with a novel way to circumvent the issue: the use of upright jet engines to propel the smoggy air upwards where it can be carried away from the city.

The team aims to use these jet engines as chimneys of sorts, with a single engine being able to handle the emissions output of a 1,000 megawatt power plant. Many initiatives are in place to tackle the smog stranglehold on Delhi, but many of these counter-pollution projects are slow-burning efforts that will unfold over the next few years. Dr. Alamaro of MIT believes that the jet engine method could be a viable solution to help the city immediately.

“This could lead to a successful implementation of a new technology for smog mitigation all over the world.” says Dr. Alamaro.

Some critics believe that the jet engine won’t have the required power to thrust the smog upwards past the layers of temperature inversion, and that the amount of jet engines required to make a significant difference in the city would be excruciatingly expensive. Dr. Alamaro and the rest of the MIT don’t believe that’s the case – but with the experiment set to unfold in the next coming months, the efficacy of this experiment (and hopefully the skies of Delhi) will soon be clearer.


*Featured image: Harish Tyagi/European Pressphoto Agency