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Aérophile’s balloon brings breath of fresh air to Paris

Aérophile of France, a manufacturer of tethered gas balloons, has just launched a unique moored balloon in Paris that provides a source of information on air quality that is visible from over 20km. The balloon is also a tourist attraction that provides excellent views of the city.

The tethered balloon, which is located in the Parc Andre Citroën, in Paris’s 15th arrondissement, uses an innovative lighting system to provide real-time reports on atmospheric pollution.

The balloon displays the quantity of the three most harmful contaminants (nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particles) found in the atmosphere, using an easy-to-understand colour coding – red for highly polluted air, orange for polluted, yellow for moderate, light green for clean and green for very clean.

In Paris, data is collected at several spots throughout the city by sensors set up by Airparif, an organisation monitoring French air quality. The data used complies with the new European Union air-pollution index developed for the CITEAIR project, which is currently used by about 30 large cities.

The balloon displays two measurements of air quality using Airparif’s data. Firstly, the ambient air quality is indicated by the colour of the balloon, using three projectors that are located upon the envelope’s equatorial plane, providing good night-time visibility. Secondly, air quality near major traffic junctions is indicated using a high-power rotating laser beam that sweeps the lower half of the envelope.

The Paris Aérophile balloon is filled with 6,000 cubic metres of helium and is tethered to the ground with a movable cable controlled by a hydroelectric winch. The environmentally friendly design is based on the Archimedes principle, and can lift up to 30 passengers (about 2.5 tonnes), without any noise or shaking, to an altitude of 150 metres above the city.

Philip Jolly | alfa
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