Using algae to reduce highway pollution


As scientists race to find alternative sources of energy to fossil fuel consumption, others are working to reduce record levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Fortunately, a team of French and Dutch designers have developed a novel use of an uncanny, but highly abundant plant-like microorganism called algae to reduce carbon dioxide, which is a leading cause of highway pollution and global warming.

Drivers all around the world depend on highways for their daily commutes to work and travel. Unfortunately, these swaths of concrete pavement are also notorious for the high levels of air pollution they exude thanks to the concentration of millions of cars and trucks that travel along them. To alleviate this problem, an international design group called Cloud Collective decided to figure out a unique way to not only minimize the carbon dioxide impact of highways, but also to transform these harmful compounds as a source of energy for more beneficial means.

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the designers at Cloud Collective turned to algae for their source of inspiration. Depending on their molecular state, algae is a versatile microorganism that can either be harmful or beneficial to the environment and humans. To survive and grow, algae requires a mix of sunlight and carbon dioxide, the latter being what piqued the interest of the Cloud Collective designers. What if the carbon dioxide emitted along highways can be turned into a source of food for algae to bloom and prosper? Not only would they consume harmful carbon dioxide emission, they would also produce oxygen.

To combat polluted landscapes, the designers developed a system of tubes, filters, pumps, and solar panels to harness the production of algae along freeway overpasses. On their website, Cloud Collective writes, “Responding to the abundance of CO2 and sunlight, we propose a closed system of transparent tubes, clinging onto the viaduct which is used for the production of algae. These algae can be used to filter air, as combustible biomass or even as raw material for different cosmetic and alimentary products.”

In the following video, the Cloud Collective demonstrate their Earth-friendly technology:

Once the algae in these tubes mature, they can be provided to various industries specializing in cosmetics, biodiesal, medication, and nutrients. Hopefully, the work of Cloud Collective will inspire other innovative ideas in addressing and alleviating pollution.

About Author

Kristian strives to enlighten and entertain readers. In addition to his teaching and editorial responsibilities, he is working on a science-fiction novel that promises not to include exoskeleton suits and anemic aliens floating in mysterious vats of green-tinted goop.

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