1/2014

Beautiful Beijing benefits all mankind

Emissions research

 

Particle emissions are currently measured in Beijing using sensor technology developed by Pegasor Ltd. as well as Postdoctoral Researcher Jaakko Yli-Ojanperä (left) and Adjunct Professor Topi Rönkkö at TUT. Miikka Dal Maso (right) brings his expertise in atmospheric research to the project.

 

I can feel your hand but cannot see your face. This Chinese proverb is a startlingly apt description of daily life in Beijing.

Comments about the air quality are a staple of conversation in Beijing: the heavy smog shrouding the city smells and tastes foul and stings the eyes.

”Last time I visited Beijing, the Air Quality Index hovered between 300 and 400, exceeding the Finnish air quality standards by more than tenfold,” says Associate Professor Miikka Dal Maso from TUT.

Dal Maso’s visit to Beijing was prompted by his research collaboration with the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES) under the MMEA research programme of Cleen Ltd. TUT and CRAES are laying the foundations for further Sino-Finnish collaboration under the Beautiful Beijing agreement.

Signed in summer 2013, the agreement seeks to improve the living conditions in Beijing. Finland and China are set to collaborate in the areas of energy production and distribution, building and construction, traffic and transportation, industry, and air quality monitoring and analysis over the next few years. For Finnish cleantech companies, the Beautiful Beijing project opens up a tremendous opportunity to capture a share of China’s fast-growing market.

Full spectrum of expertise

In the next five years, China will spend more than 200 billion euros to reduce air pollution.

TUT’s partner in Beijing is the Tampere-based company Pegasor Ltd., which has developed sensor technology for monitoring fine particle concentrations. In addition to Dal Maso’s research group, the project involves Adjunct Professor Topi Rönkkö’s group in the Aerosol Physics Laboratory at TUT. The researchers in the latter group have conducted multiple on-site air quality and exhaust measurements in Finland and Germany using Pegasor’s device.

Rönkkö’s group specializes in characterizing theparticles generated by engines, vehicles and traffic and studying how the selected technologies affect particle emissions. The research interests of Miikka Dal Maso’s group lie in the atmospheric behaviour and climatic implications of fine particles.

Beijing

 

At left, a view of Beijing on a clear day. At right, the city is shrouded in smog.

 

Coniferous forests help alleviate climate change

Associate Professor Miikka Dal Maso was part of an international team of researchers, who explored the process whereby aromatic hydrocarbons emitted by coniferous trees contribute to the formation of fine aerosol particles above boreal forests.

The researchers discovered a chemical oxidation mechanism by which these pine-scented vapours form airborne particles that promote cooling by stimulating cloud formation and reflecting sunlight back into space.

“The process warrants further investigation, but the findings already shed light on the important role hydrocarbons play in the origin of particles that cool our climate,” says Dal Maso.

Read more:

BBC: Smell of forest pine can limit climate change - researchers

Nature: A large source of low-volatility secondary organic aerosol

 

Reliable results through cross-disciplinary research

According to the researchers, their approach that combines atmospheric and emissions research is relatively new. However, it is the only reliable way to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of how aerosol particles are generated, transformed and dispersed through the air in Beijing.

“Pegasor’s sensors were installed in two measurement stations in Beijing in February. The sensors will remain in place for six months, gathering data that will be analysed by researchers at TUT and CRAES, where large volumes of previously collected air quality data are already stored. There’s a pressing need for more data analysis expertise in China,” say Dal Maso and Rönkkö.

Emissions in Beijing, rain in Africa

The researchers are taking the herculean task of fighting pollution in Beijing in their stride. In the first stage of the collaboration, they will be looking for existing technologies and quick-fix solutions to reduce smog.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Finland to showcase our expertise and at the same time hopefully improve the quality of life of millions of people.”

“The important role of the city’s local administration should not be overlooked. Beijing has pledged major investments into pollution control, which signifies that the local policies and attitudes towards environmental protection are changing,” the researchers say.

Emissions do not obey national borders, so the efforts to curb air pollution in Beijing will benefit the entire planet.

“A reduction in fine particle emissions may also have far-reaching effects. For example, high levels of particles in China can affect rainfall patterns all the way in Africa,” explains Miikka Dal Maso.

Text: Päivi Eskelinen
Photos: Mika Kanerva and Anssi Järvinen

 
Tell a friend
Factory in a box
Factory in a box
1/2014
Factory in a box
Tracking the trails of cyberattackers
Tracking the trails of cyberattackers
1/2014
Tracking the trails of cyberattackers
Smart interfaces reduce human error
Smart interfaces reduce human error
1/2014
Smart interfaces reduce human error
5G networks would enrich our lives in ways never seen before
5G networks would enrich our lives in ways never seen before
1/2014
5G networks would enrich our lives in ways never seen before
Facial expressions control and reveal
Facial expressions control and reveal
1/2014
Facial expressions control and reveal
Exploring the ultimate visual experience
Exploring the ultimate visual experience
1/2014
Exploring the ultimate visual experience
Future cinema will provide better told, more touchy-feely stories with taste and smell
Future cinema will provide better told, more touchy-feely stories with taste and smell
1/2014
Future cinema will provide better told, more touchy-feely stories with taste and smell
Waste-eating bacteria produce hydrogen
Waste-eating bacteria produce hydrogen
1/2014
Waste-eating bacteria produce hydrogen
Sunlight turns seawater into fuel
Sunlight turns seawater into fuel
1/2014
Sunlight turns seawater into fuel
Bioenergy and biofuels have staying power
Bioenergy and biofuels have staying power
1/2014
Bioenergy and biofuels have staying power
Stem cells spark new avenues for heart research
Stem cells spark new avenues for heart research
1/2014
Stem cells spark new avenues for heart research
Wireless identification and sensing systems improve quality of life
Wireless identification and sensing systems improve quality of life
1/2014
Wireless identification and sensing systems improve quality of life
Bringing electrical engineering practices to the next level
Bringing electrical engineering practices to the next level
1/2014
Bringing electrical engineering practices to the next level
Research is the key to the future
Research is the key to the future
1/2014
Research is the key to the future

Tampere University of Technology is at the leading edge of technology development and a sought-after collaboration partner among the scientific and business communities. The University produces competent graduates who enter careers in the different sectors of society.

Visiting address
Korkeakoulunkatu 10,
FI-33720 Tampere
Finland

Mailing address
PO Box 527, FI-33101 Tampere
Finland

Switchboard:
+358 3 311 511