Future tech

China’s largest bike-sharing app Ofo considering ‘smog-free’ bicycles

Daan Roosegaarde tells World Economic Forum that bike-sharing site Ofo is interested in his concept, and also that his ‘Smog-Free Towers’ could be in production by year end

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 3:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 11:00pm

Dutch innovator and designer Daan Roosegaarde says he is in talks with China’s largest bike-sharing app, Ofo, to launch bicycles that can suck pollutants from the atmosphere, creating what he claims is “smog-free” cycling.

The plan is just an idea at the moment, Roosegaarde told a panel discussion at this year’s Dalian World Economic Forum in Dalian, but said it had sparked the interest of Dai Wei, the founder and CEO of Ofo, and Fan Ling, founder and CEO of Tesign, a platform that pools design and creative talent.

Roosegaarde has drawn up designs, that show a bike that can be fitted with a screen on the handlebar, that absorbs the surrounding dirty air and purifies it as you cycle, blowing out clear air. The pedalling powers the screen.

The Dutchman is also showing off what he claims is the largest air purifier in the world at the event – a seven-metre high, office-shaped tower unit, that is being designed for public spaces.

His “Smog-free Tower” uses ozone-free technology that can efficiently capture smog particles in the air. It has a capacity of cleaning 30,000 cubic metres of air per hour, he claims. It can even could turn a one-kilometer diameter ring of haze, into a one-centimeter diameter ring of condensed particulate, that people can wear.

He said the towers will start being produced this year by his Chinese partner, Film Method Works.

He presented some first impressions of his bicycle idea on Thursday, and says the three partners are already planning prototypes that can be fitted to existing Ofo bicycles.

From ionising towers to bicycles, Dutchman’s smog-removing inventions stand to clear the air in polluted China

The company has a fleet of six million shared bikes and that is expected to be expanded to 20 million by the end of this year, according to Dai.

“We are not talking about a three- or five-year plan, but a 12- to 18-month plan. In China you got to move fast,” Roosegaarde said.

Tesign’s Fan Ling said the project illustrated the beauty of collaboration.

“We had the idea at a meeting, and afterwards I texted him, ‘can we do this or not?’, and he replied ‘yes’,” Fan said.

Besides a solution to local air pollution, Fan and Roosegaarde hope the project can shift people’s mentality, too.

“Many people in China feel they are ‘losing face’ when asked about the smog problem, they feel ashamed,” said the Dutchman.

“But what I want to convey through the tower and bicycle project is, we would also see it as an opportunity, a catalyst for innovation.”