Germany-based startup Solaga is looking to clean the air in people’s homes. Founded in 2017, its main product is a small wall decoration named Alwe. Alwe looks like an inconspicuous, minimalist wall decoration but it actually serves a vital function that can improve the health of those in the home. The wall panel is actually made up of microalgae that absorb pollutants in the air to purify them.
Alwe looks just like a piece of art in a frame. The frame, however, has small holes in the sides in order to let the air from your home into the product. The algae in the frame is capable of binding to and fixing the pollutants in the air such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Solaga’s research shows that Alwe is also able to absorb nitrogen oxides. With further research, the company hopes to expand the algae’s filtration ability to VOCs and SO₂.
Alwe: The Minimalist Art Piece That Purifies Your Home
The algae that makes up Alwe is completely safe for animals, people and water. If the frame were to break and the algae were to spill out, there is no need for a special clean up method. The algae can be thrown out with normal means. The company claims that one Alwe can clean a polluted room of 25 square meters of 20-50% of damaging air particulates. The safe regulatory limit for nitrogen in the air is 40 ug/m³.
The algae in Alwe is also much hardier than normal algae. Due to it being an aquatic plant, algae require a lot of water. Solaga, in order to make its product easier to maintain, has created a special growing process for the algae that create a biofilm. The algae in Alwe grows very densely compared to other algae. The biofilm created because of this means that Alwe needs to be in water 100% less than normal algae. The tank on the back of the frame only needs to be filled every 14 days. The biofilm makes the algae hard to kill, making the product perfect for people with “brown thumbs.” If the algae were to die in the first six months, however, Solaga offers an exchange.
Solaga is also looking to expand its product into renewable energy. Using a similar process to the air filtration, Alwe is able to produce biogas. The algae work as mini molecular powerplants. Unlike other biogas production methods, there is no need for purification. The biogas produced can be stored and used directly by the customer. Biogas is much cleaner than fossil fuels. In addition, Alwe is able to clean the air of any pollutants that may be produced.