Verse that keeps the air around from getting worse

Blessy Mathew Prasad finds out how this unique technology could be a game-changer in air purification

Published: 23rd January 2017 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th January 2017 10:18 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

While there have been doubts and discussions over whether the arts and technology can ever co-exist, a team from the University of Sheffi eld, UK has come up with an innovation that not only shows that the two can co-exist, but also complement each other. Led by Tony Ryan, a professor in the Department of Chemistry, the team has produced what they call ‘an air cleansing poem’ titled In Praise of Air, written by award-winning writer, Simon Armitage.

The poem, which has been on display at Sheffi eld since 2014, has now reached the end of its exhibition and has removed an estimated two tonnes of nitrogen oxide from the surrounding environment. The poem is printed on specially-treated material, which is capable of purifying its surroundings through catalytic oxidation. By harnessing the power of a photocatalyst, the poem is able to use sunshine and oxygen to break down airborne pollutants. “When the light shines on the photocatalyst, the electrons in the material are rearranged and they become more reactive.

These electrons are then able to react with the oxygen in the air and break it apart into two oxygen free radicals. These then react with water to make peroxide which oxidises the pollutants, making harmless molecules that can be washed away,” explains Ryan. When asked why it was necessary to have a poem when they could have just used the empty paper, Joanna Gavins, a professor in the University of Sheffi eld’s School of English, says, “Scientists, such as my colleagues at Sheffi eld, are developing technologies to help us clean the environment, but it’s the arts and humanities that can help raise awareness of environmental issues and inspire people to adopt altruistic pro-environmental behaviours.” The team now hopes that the poem and its air-cleansing technology can be replicated on billboards and artwork in towns and cities across the world to help tackle pollution.

Reach Out: www.sheffi 

Stay up to date on all the latest Edex news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp