Air pollution is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and a new cultivation system developed by scientists in the United Kingdom may help fight against it.
A team of researchers from Imperial College London collaborated with startup Arborea to create the world's first Biosolar Leaf technology, which aims to purify and improve air in London.
Experts believe that a sustainable and cutting-edge solution such as the Biosolar Leaf technology will help boost environmental outcomes not only in the UK, but also all over the world.
How Biosolar Leaf Purifies Atmosphere
The Biosolar Leaf technology works by purifying the air through photosynthesis of microscopic plants. In effect, this removes the greenhouse gases from the environment and generates breathable oxygen at the same time.
One acre of the Biosolar Leaf cultivation system can remove carbon dioxide and produce breathable oxygen at a rate equivalent to a hundred trees from the surface of just one tree.
The startup's innovative cultivation system can facilitate the growth of microalgae, phytoplankton, and diatoms on large solar panel-like structures. These large structures can be installed on land, buildings, and other infrastructure to improve the quality of the atmosphere.
Furthermore, Arborea's cultivation system also creates a sustainable source of organic biomass from which nutritious food additives can be extracted for plant-based food products.
Tackling Air Pollution In London And Worldwide
A 2016 study revealed that air pollution is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, with at least 5.5 million air pollution-related deaths every year.
In fact, more people die from air pollution than from drug abuse, alcohol, or unsafe sex. Researchers from the University of British Columbia explained that this is because manufacturing plants, power plants, vehicle exhaust, and burning of coal all release small particles into the air that are dangerous to humans.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said 91 percent of the population live in areas where the quality of the air exceeds the guideline limits.
"Reducing air pollution is an incredibly efficient way to improve the health of a population," said Michael Brauer, one of the researchers of the 2016 study.
This is where the Biosolar Leaf technology comes in. Imperial College will give Arborea, which was kickstarted by former student Julian Melchiorri, enough funding to design and develop an outdoor pilot of the cultivation system on its White city campus.
The pilot project will showcase how pioneering technologies can address social and environmental issues in real-world conditions, researchers said.
Melchiorri said the startup is excited about its collaboration with Imperial College. He said cooperation between startups, academic institutions, and governmental bodies is crucial to accelerate sustainable innovation that helps the society and the environment.
Officials in London are looking for ways to mitigate the effects of air pollution in the city through the creation of an Ultra-Low Emission Zone that operates in Central London every day.
The ULEZ is based on the "Euro Standards," which was a framework introduced in 1992. The Euro Standards cover emission controls that set limitations for nitrogen oxides and particular matter from a vehicle's engine. Under the ULEZ, vehicles that use petrol but do not meet the Euro 4 Standards will have to pay $16.14 for the violation.