It’s true that both regulatory and market-based approaches to air pollution have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. However, new inventions don’t always have the same cost-benefit ratio as these other methods. Therefore, rather than discussing technology as a whole, we’ll look at each one separately.
We’ll talk about six high-tech pollution solutions that are actively preventing air pollutants from damaging our environment and our health.
Solution #1. Devices for Monitoring Multiple Pollutants
Multi-pollutant air quality monitoring is an important topic. It’s true that this technology does not directly cut emissions or remove pollution from our atmosphere. However, it is an important component of the air pollution management system.
Pollution sources, such as factories and power plants, release many pollutants. On the other hand, certain pollution control methods regulate multiple pollutants. Multi-pollutant monitoring allows regulatory agencies to ensure that emission limits for a variety of pollutants are met. They also reduce the financial expense and time expenditure of ambient pollution monitoring.
Solution #2. Catalytic Converters
Vehicle exhaust is a significant source of pollution. Catalytic converters catalyze a redox reaction that converts toxic air pollutants into less damaging ones.
These days, every gasoline-powered vehicle has a three-way converter, also known as an oxidation-reduction catalytic converter. The devices expose exhaust to a catalyst. The catalyst lowers the activation energy for a chemical reaction. This, in turn, allows carbon monoxide to change to carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide to nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but atmospheric nitrogen and carbon dioxide are significantly less toxic than nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. Therefore, catalytic converters are excellent tools for lowering the negative implications of exhaust.
However, there are some disadvantages to using catalytic converters. For starters, they can reduce exhaust flow, which lowers fuel efficiency and vehicle performance. In addition, a warm-up phase exists for catalytic converters. During that time, the vehicle emits pollution with no control.
Solution #3. Scrubbers
Pollution control devices called scrubbers remove air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine, and hydrogen chloride from industrial emissions. They can be wet or dry.
Wet scrubbers capture particles or gases from a stream of air using a liquid like water. A spray tower is a common low-energy wet scrubber. It distributes liquid by sending exhaust through an open vessel with sprayers, and the liquid picks up particles floating in the air. Alternatively, it absorbs the target gas when the exhaust passes through the apparatus.
Dry scrubbers work in a similar way, but instead of spraying liquid, they spray dry chemicals into the flue stream. This neutralizes gases before they reach the atmosphere.
Scrubbers are a useful high-tech pollution solution because they keep harmful air pollutants out of neighborhoods near industrial hubs like power plants and water treatment plants. These devices also do not interrupt the manufacturing process. Therefore, commercial and industrial activity can continue without an increase in air pollution.
Solution #4. Stoves and Heaters with Low Emissions
Each year, 3.8 million people die prematurely as a result of interior air pollution caused by inefficient cooking methods. The majority of these deaths are because of the combustion of solid fuels or kerosene in non-ventilated environments. This causes particulate matter levels to rise to dangerous levels.
Advancements in stove design and alternative fuels has greatly helped with this. Secondary combustions, fans, or insulated combustion chambers can now be added to biomass stoves. They burn off excess fuel and ventilate any remaining pollutants. Biomass stoves are a useful stepping stone for low and middle-income countries where access to electricity or natural gas isn’t reliable.