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Fresh research for fresh air: Harnessing microbes for removing indoor pollutants

Date: 22.12.2023 

Researchers in Chile have designed an indoor air purification prototype which uses microorganisms to capture and degrade pollutants, with efficiencies above 90%. In the study, published in the Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, the scientists demonstrated that the system could operate for eight months without any loss in efficiency.

Kredit: Alberto Vergara-Fernández.As the demand for better insulation and energy efficiency in buildings increases, a lack of airflow has resulted in worsening indoor air quality, posing a risk to human health and the environment. Biofiltration systems, which pass air through a thin film containing immobilized bacteria and fungi, offer a potentially low-cost and effective solution.

The researchers used the fungus Fusarium solani and the bacterium Rhodococcus erythropolis to grow an initial microbial population for the system. After eight months of continuous performance, further species were captured from the air, demonstrating the potential of the prototype for retaining airborne bacteria and fungi.

Alberto Vergara-Fernández, Founder of Green Technologies Research Group at Universidad de los Andes in Chile and corresponding author of the study, explained how the high specialization of the microbial flora developed in the bioreactor contributed to the efficiency of the purification system. "One of the main findings was the possibility of developing a highly specialized microbial consortium, which allows obtaining high elimination capacities in very short periods of operation time, maintaining good elimination capacities."





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