BioSolar Leaves May Be Better At Cleaning The Air Than Trees

Though you’ve probably never heard of BioSolar Leaves, they may one day assist in purifying the air we breathe while simultaneously producing healthy food, according to the World Economic Forum.

The panels look much like the usual solar panels, but with one major difference: They’re green due to the microscopic plant life growing in them that do the work of trees:

“Like other photosynthetic organisms, the plants cultivated in the panels, such as microalgae, diatoms and phytoplankton, use energy from sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to make the food they need to live and grow. In the process of photosynthesis, they release oxygen into the air.

“The technology’s developer, British start-up Arborea, claims that biosolar leaves grown on panels taking up the surface area of a single tree can clean the air at the same rate as 100 trees.

“They also produce organic biomass which can be made into ingredients for sustainable, plant-based food products.”

Arborea is partnering with Imperial College in London, The Guardian reports:

“It will be piloted at the university’s White City campus. In cities such as London it is hoped the solar panel structures can be installed on the roofs of large buildings, including warehouses, cinemas and public offices.”

Unlike other similar processes which require gas compressor equipment to operate, these biosolar panels process carbon dioxide at very low pressures, according to Arborea founder Julian Melchiorri, who also commented on what had prompted him to start his company in the first place:

“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.”

While reducing CO2 levels is of utmost importance, especially with the massive levels of deforestation taking place across the globe, the benefits of biosolar technology are twofold:

“Researchers studying microalgae cultivation believe it might offer a sustainable solution to the problem of how to feed a growing global population.

“The global food system is threatening the environment, and by 2050 there will be nearly 10 billion people to feed – about 3 billion more than in 2010.”

The rapidly expanding worldwide population growth will require 70 percent more food than is current available, and that’s where biosolar can play an integral role in the future food supply:

“Microalgae is being touted as a food of the future: it grows quickly and uses only a fraction of the land and water required for crops and livestock.

“Edible algae, such as seaweed, has been a staple in countries like China, Japan and Korea for centuries. However, various microalgae species are rapidly gaining traction around the world as an alternative source of protein, antioxidants and other nutrients.

“Better-known microalgae like spirulina and chlorella can be found in nutritional supplements, snack bars, pasta, ice-cream, smoothies, bread, cakes and more.”

Professor Neil Alford of Imperial College says the school is delighted to be playing a role in making the air we all breathe cleaner and healthier:

“Air pollution is one of London’s most urgent challenges. Through our White City masterplan we are bringing forward sustainable solutions that have the potential to improve environmental outcomes in west London, throughout the UK and across the world.”

In the near future, when you see solar panels, you may want to look closely and see if they’re green. If they are, then you’ll know you’re looking at a remarkable technology which could well help us all live better, less polluted lives.


Featured Image Via Aborea

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Andrew Bradford

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