These Algae Curtains Combat Air Pollution in Urban Environments

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The design team hopes to improve upon the design so that it also provides some shade to building interiors, and to be able to replace the plastic in the design.

By Arielle Tiangco for The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News
© 2021 The Optimist Daily – All Rights Reserved

These Algae Curtains Combat Air Pollution in Urban Environments

Here at The Optimist Daily, we’re highly interested in the expansion of algae as an eco-friendly component of a variety of products that protect the environment and reinforce the value of sustainable, eco-conscious living.

Algae has been used to make biodegradable sequins and more sustainable fish feed. It is essential to providing bio-printed organs the oxygen they need to survive and is even helping breweries become carbon neutral.

Air pollution, especially in urban areas, poses a huge threat to human health and disproportionately affects marginalized communities. Algae, like all plants, absorb carbon dioxide from the air and produces oxygen via photosynthesis, making them an ideal material for enhancing the quality of the air around us. This is why two European architects decided to develop curtains filled with algae to address the issue of dirty air.

Claudia Pasquero, an architect with EcoLogicStudio, partnered with Marco Poletto to develop these curtains which are designed to turn building facades into “living walls” that purify the air. Pasquero explains, “Microalgae have exceptional properties that have been discovered by biologists that allow them to re-metabolize some of the waste that our city generates. What we’ve done is try to understand how we can integrate microalgae in the urban environment.”

The design duo formed a network of cylinders filled with microscopic green algae all throughout the curtains. The polluted air is meant to flow through the bottom of the curtains and go up through the tubes of microalgae. The microalgae feed on the air as it passes through, soaking up harmful CO2 emissions.

Although the curtains may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, Pasquero and Poletto believe that there is a promising market for their eco-positive drapes, especially for larger buildings that put more value on function than appearance (distribution centers, for example). They believe that the curtains would retail for around $350 per square meter but have stopped short of announcing whether a commercial version of the curtains would be available in the foreseeable future.

Over a dozen early models of the curtains hung in Ireland on the first and second floors of Dublin Castle. These curtains were able to extract several pounds of CO2 from the air each day, which is about the same quantity of CO2 absorbed by approximately twenty large trees.

The design team hopes to improve upon the design so that it also provides some shade to building interiors, and to be able to replace the plastic in the design with something more sustainable.

By Arielle Tiangco for The Optimist Daily: Making Solutions the News
© 2021 The Optimist Daily – All Rights Reserved

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