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Rooftop Panels of Tiny Plants Can Cleanse Polluted Air at 100 Times the Rate of a Single Tree

Photo by Imperial College London / Thomas Glover

Scientists have succeeded in developing the world’s first “biosolar leaf” technology to cleanse polluted city air with shocking efficiency.

Researchers say that the new BioSolar Leaf system uses photosynthesis to purify the same amount of air as 100 trees – all while taking up the same amount of space as a single tree.

The BioSolar Leaf cultivation system facilitates the growth of tiny plants, such as microalgae, diatoms, and phytoplankton, across large platforms that can be installed similarly to solar panels on top of various buildings and landscapes.

The microscopic bits of biomass then use photosynthesis to suck greenhouse gases out of the air and turn it into clean, breathable oxygen.

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The technology, which was developed in collaboration between Imperial College London and startup company Arborea, also serves to create a sustainable source of nutritious, edible food additives that can be harvested and used for plant-based nourishment.

Julian Melchiorri, who is the founder and CEO of Arborea, has also been responsible for developing similar air-purifying technologies. In 2017, he was hailed for creating a “living chandelier” that used algae to suck CO2 out of the air.

Photo by Imperial College London

His company will now be working with the UK university to pilot their cultivation 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 in a statement.

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“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.”

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