Roadside pollution suction technology could be a “viable alternative to banning [motor] traffic,” says a public health expert. Frank Kelly, the Battcock Chair in Community Health and Policy at Imperial College London, was responding to today’s (re)launch of Roadvent by U.K. firm Pollution Solution.
Eight years in development, the technology has been independently tested to reduce by 91% the roadside exposure to pollutants pumped out by motor traffic.
The roadside venting system could be installed outside schools and along stretches of road which suffer from the worst motor traffic pollution, says innovator Thomas Delgado, founder, and CEO of Pollution Solution.
Delgado is a serial entrepreneur. The motoring enthusiast started the online car sales website We Buy Cars Today in 2010 when twenty years old, exiting the firm nine years later.
An earlier version of Roadvent was launched in 2018.
Roadvent “allows [local] authorities to provide clean, safe, and legal air quality to the public while transitioning to 100 percent electric motorized vehicles while allowing fossil-fuelled vehicles to remain on the road,” says a statement on Delgado’s LinkedIn profile.
Road pollution is a leading cause of death. Last year, an English coroner ruled that the death of nine-year-old asthmatic Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah’s was caused by exposure to traffic pollution.
Public Health England has warned that if no action is taken to control pollution levels, the NHS and social care costs could reach more than $25 billion by 2035. According to PHE, there could be around 2.5 million new cases in the U.K. of coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, childhood asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, low birth weight, and dementia by 2035 if current air pollution levels persist.
Cambustion UK tested Roadvent at UTAC Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedford, U.K., showing its effectiveness at capturing polluted air directly from the roadway.
“Although progress has been made in reducing vehicle emissions in urban locations, hotspots still exist where traffic is idling or moving slowly,” stated Professor Kelly.
“Roadvent provides a promising viable alternative to banning traffic as the system sucks up pollution at the road surface before it can disperse to nearby [footways],” he added.
Fumes and particulate matter from vehicles are drawn into the system and pumped through pipes into a filtration unit that captures most of the pollutants.
The system is offered in 10-meter modules with prices depending on location and types of filtration required, says a PR company appointed by Delgado.
According to this PR firm, early tests of the system demonstrated a significant reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations, one of the major pollutants emitted from diesel vehicles.
Claiming it to be “overengineered technology,” Hirra Khan Adeogun of the London-based climate charity Possible, said Roadvent “won’t solve our toxic air problem.”
She added that “motor traffic is a massive source of CO2 emissions in the UK and this technology will do nothing to address traffic’s impact on the climate crisis. We already have the most effective tools in cutting all types of pollution from private cars.”
These tools, she says, include road user charging, pedestrianization, cycle infrastructure, public transit, and parking and traffic reduction measures.
“All of these,” she added, “come with the added benefits of safer streets.”