Air: Changing the Atmosphere

earthrise looks at some high-tech innovations that help clean the air.

Every year seven million people die from air pollution. It’s the world’s biggest environmental killer.

Italy is Europe’s most polluted country: in 2012, more than 84,000 people in the country died prematurely owing to bad air quality.

Iceland is the first country in the world to generate 100 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources, and is taking steps to cut its emissions even further.

earthrise travels to both countries to meet the engineers and scientists who are developing new technologies designed to clean the air. 

Italy’s pollution-eating cement

According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of city dwellers are breathing polluted air. Smog is linked to respiratory illnesses and cardiovascular disease.

Milan is one of the most polluted cities in Italy and on the European continent. To combat this, scientists have developed a new type of photocatalytic cement that absorbs pollutants and turns them into harmless salts. 

Gelareh Darabi travels to Milan to learn about the effects of this new biodynamic cement on air quality. 

Turning CO2 into stone in Iceland

Iceland’s unique geology doesn’t just create breathtaking scenery. It has enabled 100 percent of its electricity to be generated from renewable sources, including geothermal energy. 

With the aim of cutting emissions even further, a unique carbon capture system called CarbFix is being pioneered at Hellsheidi geothermal power plant, in western Iceland.

Carbon dioxide emissions are captured, mixed with water and injected into the ground. Through this process, the CO2 is transformed into a mineral called calcite within six months. This solid form of CO2 storage is seen as one of the most effective ways of preventing the gas from entering the atmosphere. 

Russell Beard heads to Iceland to find out how CarbFix works.