©2019 by Otis Harley | otisharley@gmail.com 

Cultivating Air

Algae Air Cleaning Facade Prototype

In 2015 the World Health Organisation named Lanzhou, the capital of the Gansu province, China’s most air polluted city. During photosynthesis and growth, algae absorbs air pollutants from the atmosphere and creates oxygen. Cultivating Air explores whether algae could be grown from local water sources and be used within building façade systems to improve air quality.

 

During the project, algae was cultivated from water sources across Copenhagen and Lanzhou and grown using a portable incubator unit that optimised the conditions for rapid development. After 10 days in the incubator, 4 of the 6 samples taken from Lanzhou showed signs on algae culture development. Following this cultivation period, polluted air was pumped through these cultures and the particle content, harmful gas content, humidity and temperature were recorded before and afterwards. These cultures were then decanted into a facade module that could attach to existing windows and air is pumped through it improve air quality. The experiments carried out showed dramatic improvement in air quality after filtering. Polluted air with an Air Quality Index (AQI) of over 150, considered very unhealthy, dropped as low as 19 AQI, which is better than the average for Copenhagen. The results showed up to an 89% reduction in particle pollution and a reduction in harmful gas pollution.