China pollution

China to test new smog-busting drone to help clear polluted skies

New design of unmanned vehicle will spray chemicals that freeze floating particles, allowing them to fall to ground, developer says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 2:49pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 January, 2018, 2:59pm

Government agencies are to test a new design of aerial drone to see whether it might help tackle the air pollution that often blankets much of the mainland, state media reported.

The vehicle will spray chemicals that freeze pollutants, allowing them to fall to the ground.

The tests would be led by the China Meteorological Administration and carried out later this month at airports and ports, Xinhua said.

The drone has been developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China and has a paragliding wing, which allows it to carry three times more weight than the fixed-wing version, making it more efficient and cost-effective.

Premier Li Keqiang said in his speech at the National People's Congress in Beijing yesterday the government would "declare war" on pollution. It would focus, in part, on reducing PM2.5, the fine particles of pollutants thought to be most harmful to people's health.

Watch: Chinese weather officials: 15 per cent of China blanketed in heavy smog

The mainland has used aircraft and fixed-wing drones to spray chemicals to disperse smog for several years, but the developers claim the latest design is 90 per cent cheaper and more efficient to operate.

The manufacturer has already carried out about 100 hours of test flights, Ta Kung Pao reported.

The chief executive of the company, Ma Yongsheng, said the drone could carry 700kg of smog-clearing chemicals that could be used over a five-kilometre radius, the newspaper reported.

Ma said the drone was easy to control and land, making it suitable to use at airports and ports.

He also said the drone was cheaper to produce and maintain than other types of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The company said the technology also has applications in emergency rescue, disaster relief, aerial photography, surveying and seed-sowing.

Air pollution has eased in Beijing after the capital was shrouded in smog for much of last week.

The United States embassy, which has set up its own air-quality-monitoring system and regularly posts readings on a Twitter feed, said Beijing had a "moderate" PM2.5 reading of 82 micrograms per cubic metre at 9am.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre posted on its Sina Weibo account that the capital recorded a "good" PM2.5 reading of 10 micrograms to 31 micrograms per cubic metre at 7am.

The World Health Organisation recommends a PM2.5 standard of 25 micrograms per cubic metre over a 24-hour period, and 10 micrograms per cubic metre over a year.

Residents in Beijing and surrounding provinces voiced their anger on social media last week over the slow response of the authorities to the thick smog that covered much of the north.

People complained city governments were hesitant to enforce emergency measures to tackle air pollution, including limiting the number of cars on the roads.

Some wealthy residents in smog-hit cities are buying second homes in Sanya, on Hainan, which has some of the cleanest air of any metropolis on the mainland, according to a report by Bloomberg.