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The Vegazana Campus of the University of León (ULE) in Spain, continues to give proof of the talent that it investigates day by day in its faculties. One of the last demonstrations was evident in the recent defense of the thesis of Carlos Del Blanco Alegre. The researcher is part of the research group ‘Atmosenv’ of the Department of Physics of the ULE. He has previously researched the effects of rainfall on different pollutants. A complete study, with the city of León as a test bed, leaves among its “future applications” the door open to the creation of artificial rain. It would serve to combat certain viruses and the effects of pollution.

As Del Blanco Alegre explains, “in countries with money and little rain” these artificial rains are already being created to improve air quality. Especially “in very specific spaces and with great pollution”. The investigations of this Leonese have been oriented to know which sizes of drop are the most suitable to better clean the environment. He gives as an example “the typical ‘beret’ of Madrid or the big cities full of skyscrapers”.

The effects of the study on Covid

In the case of the fight against Covid, this researcher considers that artificial rain would be “interesting” indoors. He acknowledges that outdoors “it doesn’t make sense.” Del Blanco Alegre’s analyses have focused on aerosols. This is one of the concepts that the whole society has had to familiarize itself with during the pandemic.

Thus, his thesis shows that the most effective washing is caused by raindrops between 1.25 and 3.5 millimeters in diameter. This, about aerosol sizes between 70 and 300 nanometers, which is one millionth of a millimeter. “It’s the typical thing that is said of ‘this rain has cleaned up the environment.'” These investigations tell us which size of rain most effectively washes aerosols based on their size. They range from four nanometers to pollen that can be seen with the naked eye,” explains the ULE researcher.

Del Blanco Alegre also notes that Sars-COV-2 is between 80 and 200 nanometers in size, so “it is washed by smaller rain sizes.” In this sense, the possibility of creating artificial rain to combat the coronavirus or different ‘invisible enemies’ that could arise in the coming years opens up as an alternative with increasing force.

The positive of confinement

Among the works carried out by this member of ‘Atmosenv’ is also the analysis of the effects of confinement on pollution in León. It was carried out based on the data recorded by the stations installed in the Quevedo park and in the Coto Escolar. In this sense, the weeks that the population had to stay at home to stop the spread of the coronavirus had a positive part in the improvement of air quality. “Based on the references of the European directives, comparing the previous five years in León with April 2020, there was a decrease of 47 percent,” the researcher summarizes to this newspaper from an informative point of view.

In any case, these studies also reflect more or less abrupt decreases according to the patterns analyzed. Thus, during the spring 2020 lockdown there was a 47 percent decrease in PM10 levels. This rose to 71 percent in nitrogen oxides due to the unprecedented drop in traffic and was reduced to only seven percent in the case of sulfur dioxide due to spending more time at home. “What was not polluted by traffic, was spent by heating,” concludes Del Blanco Alegre.

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A thesis of the ULE proposes to create artificial rain against viruses

A thesis of the ULE proposes to create artificial rain against viruses. Photo: Unsplash. Credits: Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez

 

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