Testing innovative solutions for Delhi's pollution
Early next year, a team of researchers from Singapore, India and the US will test the efficacy of retired jet engines to reduce Delhi's toxic air. Researchers believe that Delhi is the ideal city to experiment with this technology. These jet engines will be mounted right outside coal-fired power plants which are known to be responsible for respiratory ailments in millions.
Delhi's exceptionally foul air
Delhi is and has been one of the most polluted cities worldwide for last several years. Pollution peaks in winter due to fireworks, burning of crop-waste, coal-fired power plants and less wind. Recently, levels of PM2.5 - tiny and hazardous pollutants that enter the blood stream - were 90 times over WHO's safety level. Schools, construction activities were shut and people worked from home.
Hazardous coal-fired energy
Coal contributes to more than 60% of India's power-generation however it has been linked to thousands of premature deaths. Emissions from a 1,000-megawatt coal-fired plant equals emissions from 5 lakh cars!
How would jet-engines combat pollution?
The jet-engine will be placed on a flat-bed near the 'smokestack' and the jet's exhaust nozzle will be pointing upwards. The engine's exhaust will 'blast' emissions of coal-plants into higher altitudes at the speed of 1,440km/h, nearly the speed of sound. Emissions will be thrown above a meteorological phenomenon referred to as "temperature inversion" - cold air trapped by warmer air which 'constricts' smog.
Russia's experiment with jet-engines
According to scientists, jet engines have been deployed in the Soviet Union over 4 decades ago to increase rainfall. For experimenting in India, scientists believe just one single jet-engine is required to tackle emissions from a 1,000 megawatt power plant.
Experts weigh in
Moshe Alamaro, atmospheric scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes the experiment could become a successful methodology of smog mitigation worldwide. Critics are sceptical if jet exhausts are potent enough to create a 'virtual chimney' and whether expensive jet engines are feasible to deploy on a large scale. Dr Alamaro said that if successful, it can be used "anytime, anywhere to control air pollution."