Smog-Eating Algae is Helping to Control Air Pollution

Take a sample of air quality in any major city in the world during rush hour, and you’ll likely find it’s not the cleanest. Los Angeles is notorious for its smog as are Mexico City and Bejing, but scientist in Switzerland just may have a secret weapon — algae.

On a highway overpass in Geneva, Switzerland is a series of plastic tubes that contain a green slime that is helping to clean up the city’s air. This “little ecological miracle” as Gizmodo put it, like any plant, uses consumes sunlight and CO2 and through photosynthesis produces oxygen. Because a busy highway has a high volume of CO2 from the car emissions, it’s the perfect place for the algae to do its thing.


The series of green algae tubes were part of a summer festival in the city, and survives through a pump and filter system that keeps the algae hydrated. The project was developed by Cloud Collective, and the company plans for a variety of uses with the matured algae such as biodiesel and medication.

While the installation at the moment is just a small scale model that was built for a festival, it provides an insight into a potential air pollution combatant for cities all over. Developing larger algae tube systems in highly motorized urban areas bit, by bit is the bigger picture Cloud Collective envisions. Pretty impressive for some green slime, huh?

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