EcoLogicStudio Harnesses Algae for Urban Air Purification, Matching Mature Tree CO2 Absorption

April 3, 2024
2 mins read
A wooden box with two tubes inside it: one green and the other white and green. It has to do with PhotoSynthetica at ecoLogicStudio. With a concentration on a seated arrangement, the scene looks to be indoors, either on a table or the floor. (Source: EcoLogicStudio)
A wooden box with two tubes inside it: one green and the other white and green. It has to do with PhotoSynthetica at ecoLogicStudio. With a concentration on a seated arrangement, the scene looks to be indoors, either on a table or the floor. (Source: EcoLogicStudio)

Introduction to ecoLogicStudio and PhotoSynthetica

The London-based architecture and design studio ecoLogicStudio, led by Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, presents its first collection of biophilic design products. This collection, part of the broader research project titled PhotoSynthetica, includes a biotechnological air purifier, a compostable stool, and a 3D-printed jewelry made from microalgae biomass.

The research project PhotoSynthetica, launched in 2018 by ecoLogicStudio, along with an academic consortium, aims to counteract the negative effects of climate change and air pollution on urban well-being.

Biophilic and Digital Design Philosophy

Each product in the PhotoSynthetica Collection has been designed to combine biophilic and digital design and implement circular production and usage models.

Dr. Marco Poletto explains: “This collection is born from the dream of growing the city of the future from the wasteand pollution of our current fossil civilization.More than products these first three objectsare tools to start a collective process of urban re-metabolization.”

AIReactor: The Biotechnological Air Purifier

The new biotechnological air purifier, called AIReactor, is an indoor photobioreactor capable of absorbing carbon dioxide and pollutants while oxygenating the air.

AIReactor is a fully reversible product, consisting of a limited number of essential components, which can be reused, recycled, or composted at the end of their life. An elegant interlocking structure made of birch plywood supports a borosilicate glass photobioreactor standing 1 meter tall, which hosts up to 10 liters of live photosynthetic microalgae cultures.

AIReactor captures air from the surrounding environment by introducing it at the base of the reactor; as the air bubbles rise, they constantly agitate the culture fluid, simulating the effects of waves and marine currents. The gentle movement keeps the algal cells afloat, promoting photosynthesis and producing a relaxing sound that spreads in the surrounding space along with new oxygen molecules.

Algae collection is a simple process that can be performed several times a week, collecting up to 7 grams of dry algae per day (a tablespoon). On average, AIReactor captures the same amount of carbon dioxide as a mature tree and has been designed for a carbon-neutral lifecycle. Furthermore, the product encourages a holistic approach to urban well-being. Cleaner air has direct benefits on respiratory health, while a deeper symbiotic connection with living systems offers proven benefits for mental health.

Thanks to the metabolic capacity of algae, each reactor can capture various atmospheric pollutants: 20 grams of CO2 (carbon dioxide) per day; 0.14 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter; 0.29 micrograms of PM10 per cubic meter; and 0.69 micrograms of NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) per cubic meter.

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Innovative Compostable Stool

The compostable stool represents a new frontier for bio-polymers as it harnesses their potential associated with 3D printing for the production of “mass-customized” products. This product is the result of research conducted by ecoLogicStudio in collaboration with the Synthetic Landscape Lab at the University of Innsbruck, led by Professor Claudia Pasquero. In this experimentation, the intrinsic flexibility of the bio-polymeric material is enhanced by the unique pleated morphology of the stool’s surface and the openings on the bottom and top of the seat. Like the stem of a plant, the stool can flex and gently adapt to the shape of the body and the weight of the user, while resisting its vertical load.

The combination of bio-technological materiality and morphological articulation, characteristic of digital design, paves the way for virtually infinite customization of the product, allowing its distribution on a global scale through local production chains scattered throughout the territory. The stool is available in a natural color and is 3D printed with a patented blend of flexible, biodegradable, and compostable PLA/PHB.

Bio-digital Jewelry: Symbol of Technological Convergence

The PhotoSynthetica Collection converts pollutant molecules into valuable resources, and the bio-digital ring embodies the dream of creating a jewel from London’s pollution. The ring represents a new technological way of living, designed by artificial intelligence and cultivated in the bio-digital realm.

Professor Claudia Pasquero explains: “In this unique object, we can recognize one of the most significant aspects of contemporary technological evolution: its inevitable convergence with living nature. The ring has a powerful symbolic value, it is a call to collectively re-orient our value system sand to recognize preciousness where now we only see dirt.”

Each ring is composed of 30% algal biomass on a base of polylactic acid (PLA). It weighs 20 grams and stores the equivalent content of the daily filtration of an AIReactor.

Rahul Somvanshi

Rahul, possessing a profound background in the creative industry, illuminates the unspoken, often confronting revelations and unpleasant subjects, navigating their complexities with a discerning eye. He perpetually questions, explores, and unveils the multifaceted impacts of change and transformation in our global landscape. As an experienced filmmaker and writer, he intricately delves into the realms of sustainability, design, flora and fauna, health, science and technology, mobility, and space, ceaselessly investigating the practical applications and transformative potentials of burgeoning developments.

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