China’s air pollution problems are well documented and numerous, so the government has announced plans to tackle the problem with a unique solution. Not by cutting emissions (because that would be too obvious), but by utilizing drones to break up the stifling smog with chemicals.
Smog-clearing operations have already begun with the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China using parafoil drones to release chemicals that will enable air pollutants to fall to the ground. These drones have a paragliding wing that can carry three times more weight (up to 700kg) than the fixed-wing version.
Each drone is capable of covering a 3.1 mile radius, which is reportedly just large enough to “clean” the air around an airport or shipping hub. In a recent speech, reported by the South China Morning Post, Premier Li Keqiang said the new efforts demonstrated that the government is “declaring war” on pollution.
The drones are expected to reduce the amount of PM2.5, the fine pollutant particles that are thought to be the most harmful to people’s health, in the atmosphere, but little is known about the effect that the chemicals being used will have on the Chinese people. Of course, some that say that cities would benefit more from tighter regulations on Chinese industries, but the government appears to believe that (for now) the answers lie in these para-drones.