Smog-Eating Mega Skyscrapers Are Coming

While it's a vision that's decades away, we're hoping the concept will become reality sooner rather than later.


Meet Arconic – a newly founded New York-based global technology, engineering and advanced manufacturing leader that’s been helping ‘transform the way we fly, drive, build and power’.

Staying true to their promise of being ‘where the future takes shape’, Arconic, a company formed from the split of Alcoa Corp (NYSE:AA) in 2016, has recently released a video (posted below) showing their vision of what the future might look like in 45 years. A collaborative effort that includes known futurists, Arconic’s own engineers, and filmmaker Justin Lin, Arconic’s design ideas are part of a large marketing campaign they are calling ‘The Jetsons’, from the popular futuristic cartoon series that was originally aired from 1926 – 1963, and later revived in 1985 – 1987.

Among other things, Arconic’s vision includes the use of 3D printing to construct a 3-mile high skyscraper that can eat pollution. Specifically, the tower would have smog-eating surfaces which can theoretically clean and purify the air around it.

Right now, some of Arconic’s breakthrough technologies have already made it possible to build structures with high-thermal performance for improved energy efficiency and stronger resilience against hurricanes and other natural disasters. And with 3D printing, the building materials used will become even better — not just make skyscrapers look more modern, but also make them able to endure high winds and unique climates. This can effectively be realized by providing architects and designers with a wider range of options from materials that can be 3D printed.

The materials science company, which is listed as number 126 in the Fortune 500, envisions skyscrapers that could stretch more than 3 miles, or 4.8-km, and get built with EcoClean, Arconic’s own special coating. First released in 2011, EcoClean works by combining the power of sunlight, the properties of water vapor, and the chemicals in the coating to produce atoms known as free radicals. It is these free radicals which suck up air pollutants, breaking these down to the point that they simply become part of the building’s dirt and grime (that’s easily washable with water or even light rain), and consequently leaving the surrounding air cleaner and purer.

Mega Skyscraper

As Arconic chief materials scientist Sherri McCleary said to Business Insider: “The functional coating provides aesthetics, it provides maintenance benefits, and it also provides a benefit to the surrounding environment by reducing the content of pollutants around it.” The company is claiming that a 10,000 square feet area coated with EcoClean has the air cleansing power of approximately 80 trees.

Apart from using EcoClean, the tower is also being envisioned to have retractable balconies as well as futuristic windows called Bloomframe, which supposedly transforms from a window to an all-glass balcony in less than a minute. The technology is already being displayed at trade shows all over the world and is expected to be commercially available ‘in the near future’.

Smog-eating skyscrapers, flying cars, solar-powered rovers, and 3D-printed aerodynamic aeroplanes. These are just some of Arconic’s future technologies. And because everything is developing at accelerated speed these days, we probably won’t have to wait too long before these future tech become today’s tech.

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