Here’s a company that’s thinking inside the box. The San Jose startup company Artveoli has developed an interesting product to improve indoor air quality by converting CO2 into oxygen.
What Does It Do: The Artveoli Air Panel, according to its developer, is a microfluidic high-density photobioreactor. Simply stated, it’s a wall-hung panel that converts CO2 to Oxygen.
How Does it Work? The Artveoli Air Panel consists of three layers. The rear layer is a LED light-source. The middle layer (the microfluidic layer) is made up of bio-chips that contain photosynthetic algae. The outer layer is a cover that can be just about anything, such as artwork or painted panels. The microfluidic layer uses light from the rear layer to promote the growth of algae and convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. Microfluidics (fluid behavior at the microscale) allows the biochemical process in this project to work easier, faster and be more efficiently than non-microfluidic products. The bio-chips in the middle layer are contained in a biodegradable cartridge that is to be replaced when the algae needs to be replenished. Early indications are that the cartridges will need to be replaced three to four times a year at a cost similar to the price of new filters for existing air purifying machines. Two drawbacks of the unit are, it will not remove particles suspended in the air, and it does require a small amount of electrical power to run the LED lights.
Conclusion: With the airtight buildings we are now constructing, this looks like an interesting option to improve indoor air quality. Artveoli’s target for Air Panel is the commercial/office market and it plans to ship sometime in 2017. How much it will cost and how much maintenance it will require remains to be seen. The long-term vision for this technology is not carbon dioxide consuming devices that are hung on walls or even units that are moved around to different rooms, but rather to have walls that breathe out oxygen embedded directly into buildings from their beginning.