Megacities like Delhi—2014's —have long struggled with air pollution. A new experimental solution involving a jet engine hopes to give the Indian city of 25 million some breathing room.
The engine will be placed near a smokestack in a lightly populated part of the city. Once turned on, it will generate a nozzle speed of 900 mph, faster than the speed of sound. The nozzle will create exhaust so powerful it will shove the emissions from the plant above the meteorological phenomenon known as , in which a layer of cold air gets trapped by lid of the warmer smog.
Described as a "virtual chimney," the jet engine will take on a second life of transporting smog out of the city. The team behind the jet engine plan hope its repeatable, as a single engine can handle the emissions of a plant producing up to 1,000 MW.
"This could lead to a successful implementation of a new technology for smog mitigation all over the world," the lead researcher, Moshe Alamaro, an aeronautical engineer and atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells the BBC.
The plan has its critics. Alexander Baklanov, a researcher at the World Meteorological Organization, tells that basing a complete solution to temperature inversion on the jet engines "would require so many jets and so much fuel as to be prohibitively expensive." There's also the matter of whether this even will work, with some critics saying turbulence and friction in the air will dampen the push. And, of course, running a jet engine creates new emissions, but they "are much cleaner than that of the power plant per unit of power," the researchers assured the BBC.
The experiment will answer some of those questions. Alamaro is currently trying to find the right space within Dehli to test the jet engine, and is in talks with India's powerful multinational conglomerate Tata, as well as various government sources. Even if it can't work to alleviate all pollution in the city, it might prove useful in dire situations. "As far as I know," Alamaro says, "nobody [has] tried using jet engines for smog mitigation."