Solution to Beijing smog? 15 million people with fans, suggests actual patent applicant

Society & Culture

What you are about to read is not from The Onion. A Chinese man, apparently deeply concerned about Beijing’s air pollution, has submitted a patent application for a “wind-generation campaign” that requires 15 million people to join together to use handheld fans to fan away smog.

According to the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO), the idea was submitted on March 4, and if you don’t believe this is real, please realize that a government website posted details of this application on July 4 after it passed preliminary evaluation.

The bold proposal, titled “A proposal to fan away smog,” didn’t attract much attention until a reporter from the Legal Daily recently made the discovery online.

Screen Shot 2017 11 28 at 10.48.26 PM

Du Honglai 杜宏来, the patent applicant, writes in the proposal’s abstract that his innovation is providing a “low-cost and effective” solution in the fight against pollution:

This innovation provides a type of organization and implementation plan to eliminate smog. In smog-affected cities and areas, smog can be blown away by people fanning in the same direction simultaneously. This method is low-cost and effective, without causing secondary pollution to the environment.

To prove the feasibility of the idea, Du used Beijing as an example. “If 15 million people in the capital participate in this campaign, at least 1.08 trillion cubic square meters of air particles could be moved one meter within an hour,” he wrote, adding that the wind power generated by this giant human ventilator would be strong enough to blow newly formed mild pollution away from the city and prevent it from becoming severe.

Du noted that handheld fans should be provided by the government, which should also take the responsibility of organizing people by various means, such as radio, television, and text messaging, when pollution settles in.


In an interview (in Chinese) conducted via instant messaging with Shanghai-based The Paper, Du, who appears to be based abroad, said he doesn’t spend much time in China but that he pays close attention to domestic news. When asked if he truly believes in his method, Du seemed offended. “Of course I have faith in my method,” he said, adding that he invested great time and energy in doing research. Du also noted that he has been seeking solutions to China’s pollution problem for almost eight years.

Whether or not Du’s patent will be approved is still up in the air, but Chinese internet users couldn’t hold back from mocking the idea for its sheer absurdity. Comments include:

“How about 15 million people taking a deep inhale of smog simultaneously? Problem solved, easily!”

“Let’s pass smog along from one city to another. North Korea is the destination.”

“I’d better start a fan company as soon as possible. Huge business potential there.”

“Can’t wait to see a fan battle between Beijing people and Hebei people!”

“In theory, the method makes sense. But I am afraid that Beijing won’t have a population of 15 million people when the proposal is passed.”

We’ll never know until we try it!