Wind tower idea to tackle smog

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Max Willets reckons wind towers could be the answer to Timaru’s air pollution problems.
Mr Willets, a retired industrial engineer, says about 10 wind towers would be required to cause the movement required to break the still air over the city.
Timaru has recorded 17 high pollution nights in 2016.
‘‘Again, we are being brainwashed about Timaru air pollution, with the blame being attributed to home fires,’’ Mr Willets said.
‘‘Timaru has a unique profile and on still cold nights, the air above the city layers.
‘‘With no air movement, the smoke and residue from fires accumulates and is not dispersed, causing high pollution levels.’’
Mr Willets said he had previously urged authorities to investigate the use of wind towers to move air and stop the build-up of air pollution.
‘‘Look at Newton’s third law: for every action, there is a reaction. So apply it to air movement. We start air moving and immediately surrounding air moves to fill the void.
‘‘Possibly 10 towers at possibly north of $1 million would be required to cause the movement required to break the still air over the city.’’
Environment Canterbury spokeswoman Katherine Trought said wind towers had previously been considered as a solution to improving air quality in Timaru.
‘‘While it’s theoretically possible to use fans to blow the PM10 away, in practice it would take a lot of fans.
‘‘They would use a lot of power, cost a lot to install and to run, and they would be noisy.’’
ECan was keen to look at any innovative solution to reduce PM10 concentrations, she said.
‘‘Our approach has been to encourage the development of new clean-burning wood burners, so we can stop the pollution at the source.
‘‘Smoke from wood burners is known to be responsible for over 80% of winter air pollution and the key is to burn smoke-free. We are focusing on helping people to burn smoke-free and change to cleaner heating options over time to improve air quality.
‘‘As more Timaru residents tweak their techniques to burn smokefree and switch to cleaner heating options over time, the town’s air quality will continue to improve.’’