FM newsroom – perspectives, trends. Even private homes are polluted with substances harmful to health, let alone commercial buildings, healthcare facilities or offices welcoming crowds of people. Circularizing the air by opening the windows is a good habit, but it is not enough to maintain a healthy environment. Sphera, the innovation of the Italian startup, Aura System, can purify air and reduce carbon dioxide with low energy consumption.
A small modular forest with low energy consumption is capable of eliminating negative pathogens circulating inside the office. Aura System, a beautiful green wall, living nature in closed environments, is the result of a brilliant idea by the founders, Pietro Carloni and Aligi Marini, who worked intensely on the project during the pandemic.
The mechanism behind the „breathing walls”
The „breathing walls”, as Pietro Carloni, CEO prefers to call the elements of the Sphera system are more than just a simple green wall. Its modules are composed of plants planted in a special clay substrate hiding a ventilation system.
“Sphera is a plug-and-play breathing wall. It is made of modules with 16 installed plants, which grow on our patented substrate with high purifying qualities. Behind each module is a fan, forcing air to pass through the substratum, retaining and eliminating pollutants. To keep the correct moisture levels, Sphera features a hydroponic system, which distributes water to all modules.” – Pietro Carloni, CEO of Aura Systems told Innovationsorigins.com.
Thanks to the special substrate made of coconut fibre and two selected kinds of clay, Sphera can absorb 80% of VOC in less than two minutes and all fine dust in less than fifteen.
Plants carefully selected for phytoremediation
Sphera mostly uses Pothos, Calathea, and Philodendron. These indoor plants can all ingest VOC through phytoremediation, and they don’t need much care and sunlight to grow.
„Phytoremediation – or biofiltration – is the plants’ ability to purify the air with their roots. It has already been used to clear freshwater and soil. NASA itself researched the topic, selecting about twenty plants with purifying properties. Some air pollutants – such as sulfates and nitrates – are nutrients for plants, which absorb them through their roots.” – Carloni points out.
Biophilia refers to the positive effects of nature on people’s mental and psychophysical conditions. Productivity increases by 10% and cognitive capabilities are boosted by 100% – according to the CEO. Breathing green walls can also enhance these qualities.
Plants also emit many natural microorganisms that cannot be found indoors. When environments are too sanitized, the bacteria that help our bodies to work better are killed. For instance, poor air quality can lead to dermatitis, whereas maintaining contact with plants helps skin stay healthier.
By establishing the right balance of microorganisms in the air plants help to fight the so-called sick building syndrome causing nausea, headaches, and eye or throat irritations.
„Breathing walls” are key to a sustainable future
Soon Aura Systems we will also be the first in Europe to connect the Sphera green wall system to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
“A study found that using plants as pre-filters for the ventilation system can reduce maintenance and energy costs by 60%. HVAC systems use the most electricity in buildings – and are also the largest source of pollution. We plan to recycle the indoor air without supplying it from outside. HVAC systems clean the outside air before bringing it inside, which uses a lot of energy. Biofiltration uses less energy, is sustainable and produces fewer by-products.” – Carloni told innovationorigins.com about their plans for the future.