China is set to unleash a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles to clear the smog from its skies as part of Beijing’s newly declared “war on pollution”.
The smog-busting drones were designed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China and will be tested later this month at airports and ports, according to a Chinese language Xinhua report seen by the South China Morning Post.
Rather than the fixed wing, insurgent-hunting drones most of us are used to, these designs apparently use a paragliding wing which allows the craft to carry up to three times more weight – around 700kgs of chemicals.
The plan is to spray these chemicals at the smoggy pollutants, causing them to freeze and fall earthwards. There’s no news on whether Beijing has thought of the potential environmental impact when all this frozen 'smog' slowly melts across the land.
Pollution is so bad now in China that premier Li Keqiang this week “declared war” on smog at the National People’s Congress of lawmakers in Beijing.
It’s not just the potential impact on public health that worries the Party but also the threat to social order and therefore its grip on power.
As part of the anti-pollution drive, 50,000 small coal-fired furnaces across the country will be shut down this year and cleaning technologies including desulphurisation and dust removal introduced at coal-fired power plants, according to Xinhua.
The government is also working on providing cleaner diesel for vehicles this year and removing six million high-emission vehicles from the roads.
Playing God with the elements is nothing new to Beijing. The Weather Modification Bureau fired silver iodide into the heavens during the 2008 Olympics in a cloud seeding project to ensure clear skies over the capital. ®