Think globally, scrub locally.
That could be the slogan for a new technology coming out of Europe that uses high-tech mobile moss structures to scrub pollutants from the air on the hyperlocal scale. Dubbed the CityTree, each mobile installation removes dust, nitrogen dioxide, ozone gases and other particular matter in its immediate vacinity.
The idea is to place CityTrees in urban outdoor areas where people tend to congregate the most — city parks or commercial plazas, for example — and let the specialized moss cultures do what they've been doing on their own for a few million years and counting.
The CityTree project is already gaining momentum in Europe and Asia, where clusters of CityTrees have been popping up in Brussels, Oslo, Paris, and Hong Kong. According to the German startup company behind the technology, Berlin-based Green City Solutions, each CityTree can demonstrably improve air quality within a radius of 50 meters (about 150 feet) around each individual installation.
Despite the name, the CityTree isn't really a tree at all. It's a rectangular platform of densely packed moss culture, vertically housed in a weatherproof casing around four meters tall, three meters wide, and about two meters deep. Optional park benches can be attached on either side. In an effort to make the structure financially viable for buyers, each CityTree can also be used as an analog billboard or commercial sign space. Just affix your ad or company name to the grid beneath, and you've got a living, breathing billboard.
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According to Green City Solutions, there's plenty of hard science behind the environmental efficacy of their technology. Internal studies suggest that each moss structure — with a total area of about 3.5 square meters (38 square feet) — filters an amount of airborne particulates that is the equivalent of 275 trees.
“The CityTree is based on a biotechnology, a special moss culture which has the ability to attract air pollution from its surroundings and to convert it into its own biomass,” Denes Honus, CEO and co-founder of Green City Solutions, says in a company video. “The moss literally eats air pollution.”