Eco-Friendly ‘algae curtains’ Could Curb Air Pollution in Big Cities

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There are many issues with big cities, but the biggest of all is air pollution. Fortunately, two European architects have developed something to help with this problem once and for all. They’ve created plant-filled plastic curtains that turn building facades into “living walls.” These walls are designed to purify dirty air.


To explain the design further, the curtains contain a maze-like network of tubes that are filled with microscopic algae. This alga is like most green plants: they remove carbon dioxide from the air and pump out oxygen. And thanks to this design, the air is going to be flowing from the bottom and start to rise up through the tubes, feeding the microalgae along the way.


The idea came to fruition when the two architects noticed a large number of algae sitting in ponds nearby their office. After that, they collaborated with a microbiologist and discovered just how powerful these algae can be. From there, they created the design that we see now.


What they learned was that the algae work like most other green plants. However, this algae specifically has exceptional properties that allow the algae to re-metabolize some of the waste that cities make. It’s been a long time coming, but one of the designers, Claudia Pasquero, has said they’re working on implementing this alga into an urban environment.


Even in the early stages, her and her partner on this project, Marco Poletto, are anticipating a strong market for these curtains; particularly in warehouses and larger buildings. After all, these are buildings that are valued on functions rather than looks. The two have determined they might sell the curtains at $350 per square meter. However, they aren’t sure at the moment when these prototype curtains will be commercially available.


That doesn’t mean they haven’t been testing them. Just last month, they tried out the curtains in Ireland. In the experiment, they covered the first and second floors of Dublin Castle with over a dozen of these drapes. Collectively, the curtains covering the castle can suck out over two pounds of carbon dioxide every day. That’s significant seeing as you’ll need 20 large trees to do the exact same thing.


It’s quite an impressive claim, however, not everyone is convinced.


Some are quick to point out that while the curtains are creative, their current design doesn’t provide any kind of shade. Furthermore, these drapes need to be replaced every two to three years while trees are self-replenishing.


Poletto is quick to argue against that stating that the curtains can be designed to provide a little shade for inside the building. This addition could be used in regions where extreme cold limits the growth of trees, along with urban areas that don’t have any space to plant a tree. 


One thing is for certain though: there need to be some ways to remove the atmosphere of the excess CO2. We need to find new ways to deal with carbon sequestration amongst other things revolving around climate change.

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