Billboard Pushes Clean Air With Poetry, Pollution-Eating Particles

May 21, 2014 11:12am

A poet and a scientist have teamed up to fight air pollution with what they call the world’s first “air-cleansing” billboard.

Poetry professor Simon Armitage and chemistry professor Tony Ryan of the University of Sheffield in England joined forces to create the giant poster, which features a poem by Armitage entitled “In Praise of Air” printed with pollution-eating particles of titanium dioxide.

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The large billboard will scrub the air of pollutants for a year. (University of Sheffield)

“I wanted to write a poem that was approachable, that might catch the attention of the passer-by and the wandering mind,” Armitage said in a statement. “”I’ve enjoyed working with the scientists and the science, trying to weave the message into the words.”

Titanium dioxide particles purify the air by using sunlight and oxygen to react with nitrogen oxide pollutants, according to Ryan, who said the sign will help scrub the surroundings of pollution caused by cars.

“This is a fun collaboration between science and the arts to highlight a very serious issue of poor air quality in our towns and cities,” Ryan said. “The science behind this is an additive which delivers a real environmental benefit that could actually help cut disease and save lives.”

The sign will hang in Sheffield for a year, according to the duo, where it will help clean the air of nitrogen oxide pollution created by an estimated 7,300 cars.

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