Building with pollution

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för arkitektur och byggd miljö

Abstract: Black carbon is an ever-growing global problem and one of the most important environmental issues of this generation. Black carbon, also known as soot, is a highly polluting substance and it is the second-largest polluter after carbon dioxide. BC consists of pure carbon in various forms and is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. It is transported by air movement and wind, but can also be transferred by rain and snow. The positive aspect of BC is that it only stays in the atmosphere for a few days or weeks, whereas the atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide is about 100 years. The removal of black carbon from the atmosphere can have a major impact on the environment and human health. Because of its short lifetime, the results of its removal are visible after only a few weeks. Black carbon not only threatens major cities and the places where it is produced but because it is light and travels fast, it is a major threat to the polar ice caps. Every day it can travel thousands of kilometers from where it is produced to the Arctic, Himalayas, and Antarctica. Because BC is black, it absorbs a large amount of solar radiation, and even a small amount of soot deposited on snow or ice causes rapid melting. Black carbon warms the climate in two ways. Firstly, when it is suspended in the atmosphere, it absorbs direct sunlight and generates heat that warms the air and affects the formation of clouds and thus precipitation in some regions. Secondly, when deposited on snow and ice, it performs the same function - absorbing sunlight and trapping it instead of reflecting it into space, accelerating the melting of the most reflective natural elements - snow and ice. Recent studies suggest that black carbon is responsible for more than 40% of the ice melt and rapid warming in the Arctic, which will lead to even faster warming and wildlife extinction if no action is taken. BC has also been shown to be one of the main reasons for rapid ice melt in the Himalayas, which is the region’s main source of freshwater. Moreover, BC has recently been found even in Antarctica. The place where about 80% of the world’s freshwater is stored and the area accounts for 90% of the snow and ice cover. The polar ice caps are the largest reflective surface on Earth, snow and ice are much more reflective than land or even water. Once BC is deposited on surfaces with a high albedo, its particles reduce the total albedo available to reflect solar energy to space. The reduced albedo of snow increases the surface temperature, which decreases the snow-covered area and causes the ice caps to melt much faster. The ice caps will trap the sun’s energy instead of reflecting it, the water level will rise dramatically, we will lose more than 80% of the earth’s freshwater reserves to the oceans, numerous species will become extinct, and the temperature on earth will be higher than ever before. Firstly, the thesis is focused on how black carbon is deposited, where and by what means it is formed. But more importantly, how it moves and which albedo surface on Earth is most threatened by the deposition of black carbon aerosols. This initial research helped determine the site based on how vulnerable it is. The project then breaks down into two main phases. Phase one is the capture station. It is researched and constructed to capture the greatest amount of soot from the atmosphere in the area. This capture station is located where the winds are stronger and ship transport is more frequent. Once captured black carbon can be filtered out of the air and reused to make building materials such as tiles and bricks, it is also used to make pigments such as ink. Phase two of the project will be a building built with the captured pollution, it will be a research center, a museum, but also a monument (a warning sign) showing that as long as this building expands or others are built in different places around the world, the earth is at risk and there is something extra we can do to stop global warming and especially black carbon emissions. Phase two will not only serve as a research center and museum for further education and study of the local climate and air status, but it will be a “red flag” for all of us, signaling that even if the problem is not visible, it does not mean it is not there. The building’s function is not therefore to save the planet and completely eliminate air pollution in the region. It aims to raise awareness, to bring a discussion, and to provoke as a contradictory artwork itself.

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