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Protecting air quality

In 2018, the WHO warned that nine people out of 10 worldwide breathe polluted air, and that the inhabitants of the world’s megacities are particularly exposed. SUEZ is rising to this challenge, which is one of the major concerns of local authorities and industry, by developing innovative solutions that improve air quality using new technologies and drawing inspiration from nature.
The issues

Working to improve air quality

limiter gaz picto
Limit emissions of harmful particles
ameliorer les outils picto
Improve the tools to measure and monitor air quality
purifier picto
Purify the air in urban environments
Our innovations

Gaining a better understanding of air quality, improving monitoring and treatment

SUEZ has formed an “Air Division” of some 10 engineers working on several new concrete solutions that are operational in the field, and on R&D and innovation, either internally, or in partnership with other players.

Realising what is at stake, the Group is committed to making air quality one of its key areas for research and innovation over the coming years. Over €10 million have already been invested in this area. The results of our initial trials (carbon sinks, IP’AIR, etc.) have confirmed the direction we are taking and strengthened our resolve to step up our efforts.

Jean-Marc BoursierDeputy Managing Director of Operations, R&R Northern Europe, hazardous waste recovery, Europe

The Group is investing in the design, development and operation of innovative air treatment solutions, in France and elsewhere, that will enable industry to reduce its environmental footprint and allow local authorities to improve air quality:
  • Measurement tools to monitor, understand and assess air quality in a target environment (public spaces, industrial plants, school playgrounds, etc.);
  • Trials in environments that are sensitive/prone to air pollution such as underground stations or areas in proximity to heavy traffic, so that users will be able to breathe healthier air;
  • Tried and tested treatment solutions such as Pollution & Carbon Sinks.


Photograph credit: ©Abel Oro Figueroa

Air quality: a 21st century challenge

Discover in this video our solutions for protecting air quality.

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SUEZ presents its solutions for protecting air quality - SUEZ

Credit: SUEZ group

“IP’AIR”: reducing atmospheric pollution in underground transport

We developed the IP’AIR solution in partnership with the RATP, the Paris public transport operator. This innovative system improves the air quality on the Paris railway network by reducing pollution due to fine particles.
Our development is based on the deployment of made-to-measure solutions to treat air movements in urban environments, subway stations, tunnels and even school playgrounds.

Jérôme ArnaudisDirector of the SUEZ Air Division

Improving the quality of the ambient air

IP’AIR, which is installed directly on the platforms in underground stations, uses a positive ionisation process to limit the concentration of fine particles (PM 10 and PM 2.5). This electrostatic filtration technology captures the fine particles emitted by the braking systems used on overland and underground trains. A weak electric current is injected into these particles, which are then attracted to collector panels that work like magnets. IP’AIR is capable of treating almost 7,500 m3 of air per hour, or 10% of the air in the station, while consuming negligible quantities of energy.

Creating recovery channels for fine particles

These particles are then analysed to see if they can be reused in channels that are still being developed. We also contribute to the measurement of the quality of the air at the inlet and the outlet of the filters, while the RATP and Airparif measure the levels of fine particles present in the stations.

This technology is expected to be deployed for other applications, such as air treatment in car parks or motorway tunnels.


Photograph credit: ©RATP - Bruno Marguerite

Pollution & Carbon Sinks: an innovation inspired by nature

In 2017, the collaboration between our Group and the French company Fermentalg, which specialises in the production and use of microalgae, gave birth to the Pollution & Carbon Sink. The microalgae, which are grown in a water column using the principle of photosynthesis, capture the CO2 and other forms of atmospheric pollution, such as fine particles or nitrogen dioxide. This innovation provides local authorities and industry with a concrete solution capable of improving air quality, while also producing green energy.
Puits Carbone
We have demonstrated that the Pollution & Carbon Sink can capture an average of 75% of the main atmospheric pollutants in an urban environment, which are fine particles (PM 10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Jérôme ArnaudisDirector of the SUEZ Air Division

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

This process, which is efficient in both urban and industrial environments, can capture up to 10,000 tonnes of carbon and recover an average of 1 tonne of CO2 per year.

- Industrial environments.
Two years of trials at the SIAAP purification treatment plant in Colombes, near Paris, produced a positive carbon balance. The micro-algae produced green energy in the purification plant, and the forecasts predict CO2 savings equivalent to 75 trees per m3.

- In urban environments.
A trial in the Place Hélène et Victor Basch in Paris tested the capacity of the system to capture fine particles (PM 10) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in an urban environment. Here again, the results were conclusive, since the presence of these two variables was reduced by 50% to 75% on average. This means that the air treated by the device is of a higher quality than that recommended by the WHO.

Tests of the system on the INERIS test bench, which is unique in Europe, showed reductions in the levels of fine particles of between about 66% and 99%, and of 76% to 97% of nitrogen dioxide, depending on the configuration. This is equivalent to the annual emissions from 150 cars in the Paris region.

The system was extended by a new carbon sink inaugurated in Créteil in March 2019, which is designed to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions as part of a circular economy initiative by the local authorities.

Producing green energy

By capturing the carbon present in the atmosphere, the algae reproduce and form a biomass that flows directly into the sewerage network to the purification plant. This biomass is then collected and recovered as biomethane that is injected into the gas mains to produce local and renewable energy.

Understanding and diagnosing air quality in real time

In Chile, we are helping the local authorities and industry to deploy smart services, such as high-tech micro-sensors that are integrated into our digital platform, so that our customers can take operational decisions in view of their impact on air quality.
SERPRAM qualite air
We operate more than 120 monitoring stations located throughout the country. 365 days a year, we measure the air quality to check that the environmental standards are met in real time.

Claudio PerezAir Quality Product Manager

These high-tech micro-sensors produce different types of very reliable data on air quality, such as the concentration of different gases in the air, the temperature, wind strength, etc., that can be sent at frequencies as high as every 5 minutes. This data is then recorded on our digital platform, converted into validated information and analysed in order to produce backward-looking expectations, to make forecasts based on WRF models and Calpuff views, or to model episodes of pollution, and to take the appropriate terms of the impact on air quality.

For example, we have installed these sensors in the Paseo Bandera pedestrian precinct in the heart of Santiago, where we measure the main atmospheric pollutants (PM 2.5, NOx, CO2, VOCs, etc.) to help the local authorities to taken decisions on public policy.

Once the collected data has been analysed using smart technologies, we are able to propose made-to-measure solutions that can effectively combat pollution.

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