Hi-tech plant wall provides superior protection from chemicals, research finds
The ability of many plant species to remove harmful airborne chemicals found in modern office spaces can be boosted significantly using a newly discovered approach, scientific research shows.
Green walls that clean the air are now a familiar feature of many Australian offices. However, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) research shows that a new green wall system delivers significantly improved results.
Biosafety research was carried out by UTS plant scientists with a new kind of green wall system, dubbed the Junglefy Breathing Wall.
Researchers measured how well the new system removed toxic pollutants including volatile organic compounds, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter out of the air.
Apart from laboratory tests, field trials were held in places workers or the public typically spend time, including offices and sealed rooms. The results were then compared with how well typical indoor plant systems fared.
UTS plants and environmental quality research group leader Dr Fraser Torpy (pictured, left) says apart from making public and office spaces feel better, plants are also very successful at absorbing toxins and carbon dioxide through the natural process of photosynthesis and biofiltration.
He adds that tests of the new approach, developed for use with the Breathing Wall by living infrastructure specialists Junglefy, delivers a significant and quite unexpected improvement in toxin and CO2 uptake by plants.
“Our research has shown that the new approach taken by Junglefy delivers some of the highest photosynthetic carbon dioxide removal rates observed in research to date,” Dr Torpy says.
“Three papers based on our studies have been peer reviewed and now await publication. The promising results indicate that further research into the health-giving effects of plants in green wall systems would be valuable given how many of us are spending hours every day in offices and other enclosed spaces.”
Sydney locals and thousands of tourists are amazed by the stunning plants that grace the exterior walls of the Frasers & Sekisui House, One Central Park building, located on Broadway.
Junglefy, who was involved in its construction and now maintains this living infrastructure, has enabled this building to become a viable living ecosystem that attracts frogs, birds and bees.
“Our research has shown that the new approach taken by Junglefy delivers some of the highest photosynthetic carbon dioxide removal rates observed in research to date.
The living landmark also saw One Central Park awarded with the World’s Best Tall Building accolade by the Council of Tall Building and Urban Habitats in 2015.
Findings of the UTS research based on a 10 square metre Breathing Wall (based on a 10 square metre Breathing Wall in a 100 square metre office with 2.6 metre ceiling with 10 occupants with 1 fan under 100uE of light) included:
- Carbon dioxide reduction – plants in the wall can process 24.2 litres of pure CO2 per hour- to date the highest rate recorded in previously published research.
- Volatile Organic Compound (VOCs) removal – it removes VOCs 1.5 times faster than equivalent volume pot plants.
- Particulate Matter (<PM10) filtration – it can remove 95 percent of all <PM10 from starting concentrations, allowing the air to be returned to safe breathing levels within 60 minutes.
- Acoustics and energy efficiency – the Breathing Wall acts as a sound barrier, improving acoustics while cooling the surrounding air temperature – potentially resulting in energy efficiency and reduced air conditioning costs.
Junglefy founder Jock Gammon (pictured, right) says the Breathing Wall is the result of years of research and testing.
“We will be putting the new system through its paces in a public sense when we install it for the first time in a major Sydney development this month,” Gammon says.