Tethered Drones to Spray NASA Compound to Remove Smog

Image courtesy of Apellix.

Aerial robotics provider Apellix (Jacksonville, Florida, USA) celebrated the recent Earth Day by introducing its Apellix Project Breathe, which aspires to use tethered drones to spray paint a NASA-developed compound to remove smog and pollution from the air on U.S. highway noise barriers.

While clean air is certainly important to the earth, Apellix notes that outdoor air pollution is also one of the world’s biggest human health problems. Long-term exposure to air pollution can have negative impacts on physical health and wellbeing, including cognitive functioning. One commonly visible measure of air pollution is smog. 

In the United States, transportation contributes over 55% of NOx emissions, a major component of smog. NOx is a generic term for the nitrogen oxides that are most relevant for air pollution, mostly nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). These gases contribute to the formation of smog, acid rain, and negatively affect tropospheric ozone. The gases are produced from the reaction of nitrogen and oxygen during the combustion of fuels.

People who live, work, or attend school near major roads appear to have an increased incidence and severity of health problems due to increased exposure to air pollution, according to Apellix. Children, older adults, people with preexisting diseases, and people of lower socioeconomic status tend to be among those most at risk.  

In response, NASA has developed a sprayable photocatalytic surface treatment that transforms harmful NOx gasses into simple harmless substances to clean the air, just as plants do. This environmentally friendly water-based product coating neutralizes the harmful gases with a photocatalytic activity of titanium dioxide and natural sunlight, which turns the gases into harmless substances: water, CO2, and nitrate salts. According to Apellix, one lane mile (6,000 m2) will remove one ton of NOx per year. This is equivalent to reversing the polluting effect of cars driving 650,000 miles, according to the company.

The U.S. highway systems noise barriers represent over 3,300 linear miles of sprayable flat vertical surfacs. Using its patented spray painting aerial robotic systems, Apellix is looking to apply the air cleaning surface treatment to the noise barriers.

Users can contact Apellix for more information on the project, as well as how to help.

Source: Apellix, www.Apellix.com, info@apellix.com.