This bio-engineered houseplant claims to clean the air as efficiently as 30 air purifiers
- Neoplants has genetically modified a plant to do the work of 30 air purifiers.
- The Neoplants have been modified at the DNA level to produce new enzymes that can metabolize air pollutants.
- The Neo P1 will be available for $179.
AdvertisementA Paris-based startup ‘Neoplants’ has genetically modified a plant to do the work of 30 air purifiers. Neoplants, genetically engineered pothos (Epipremnum aureum) plant, and its associated root microbiome.
The company’s first plant- Neo P1, works in hand with the Neoplants’ microbiome located in the soil near the plant roots.
This is not the first time when the plant is being used as an air purifier. In 1989, NASA launched a research project to study biological life support systems for space travel. The study suggested that various plants and their associated microorganisms have interesting
NASA didn’t find a way to recycle VOCs, but Neoplants is able to turn VOCs into the water, sugars, amino acids, and oxygen, which makes them capable of purifying air,
How do Neoplants work?
Neoplants specifically target a group of indoor air pollutants - benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, methylene chloride, and other volatile organic compounds, traditional air purifiers can’t efficiently capture that.
The trouble is that most of the VOCs are very tiny molecules, making them difficult to remove from indoor air with regular air purifiers.
Even if an air purifier somehow manages to filter the tiny molecules, they will be simply re-released by the air purifier in a different location rather than eliminating and neutralizing them completely.
The Neoplants have been modified at the DNA level to produce new enzymes that can metabolize air pollutants. For instance, Neoplants- Neo P1 turns formaldehyde into fructose and BTEX compounds into amino acids that plants can later use to produce proteins.
The process took four years of near-constant work, but in the end, the researchers created a plant that can metabolize four major indoor air pollutants, including toluene and formaldehyde. The bio-engineered plant can even absorb certain VOCs, like benzene and carcinogen, that is present in wildfire smoke.
The real breakthrough came from modifying the microorganisms present in plants' roots. The researchers inserted genes from extremophile bacteria, which survive in the environment by eating toxic chemicals. This modification boosted the plant’s pollutant-metabolizing capacity.
Right now, the
Further, the company only has one type of plant- Neo P1 available right now. In the near future, Neoplants is looking to develop a greater variety of VOC-filtering plants.
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