Rooftop Panels Can Purify Polluted Air 100x Faster Than Trees Using Photosynthesis of Plants

Scientists have successfully developed the first rooftop panels that can cleanse polluted city air with incredible efficiency. The BioSolar Leaf technology uses photosynthesis to purify the same amount of air as 100 trees in as little space as a single tree.

The BioSolar Leaf cultivation system facilitates the growth of tiny plants—including diatoms, microalgae, and phytoplankton—across large structures. The platforms can be installed similar to solar panels on buildings and landscapes. Via photosynthesis, the microscopic bits of biomass convert greenhouse gases in the air to clean, breathable oxygen.

The revolutionary system was developed in collaboration between Imperial College London and startup company Arborea. According to a statement, the system also produces a sustainable source of nutritious, edible food additives that can be harvested and used in plant-based products.

Julian Melchiorri, who is the founder and CEO of Arborea, is known for his progressive and “green living” designs. In 2017, he debuted his Bionic Chandelier. The living and breathing structure purifies the air indoors by using micro algae. The chandelier eventually became part of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s permanent collection.

Credit: Photo by Imperial College London

The company’s next objective is to partner with the UK university to pilot their cultivations system on the school’s campus. “In our ever-growing modern cities, cooperation between start-ups, academic institutions and governmental bodies is critical to enable and accelerate sustainable innovation that benefits both our society and environment,” Melchiorri said.

“When I founded Arborea, my goal was to tackle climate change while addressing the critical issues related to the food system. This pilot plant will produce sustainable healthy food additives while purifying the air, producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the surrounding environment.”

Credit: Photo by Imperial College London / Thomas Glover

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