Can A Flower Help Lessen Pollution In Amsterdam?
Researchers are experimenting with the CO2-sucking effects of a special Honeysuckle plant
In Amsterdam, researchers are testing how well a special honeysuckle plant can work as an anti-pollutant. The AMS Institute in Amsterdam has partnered with local company MyEarth to breed a variation of the plant, called the Green Junkie, with traits (like “extra hairy and scaled leaves”) that will help improve its pollution-sucking abilities.
The denser and longer hairs on the leaves of the Green Junkie allow it to capture larger amounts of particulate matters. Researchers used a custom fertilizer made from plant waste from the city’s streets to develop the hairs, stimulating the plant to become a super-fast grower. Ordinary plants are already surprisingly effective air filters: some grasses and ivy planted near traffic can reduce nitrogen dioxide by 40 percent, and reduce particulate matter by up to 60 percent.
The enhanced Honeysuckle plant requires the right placement and space to do its best pollution-saving work. Researchers will first analyze a Green Junkie’s effect in a controlled wind tunnel, then test it under living lab conditions in Amsterdam, likely in urban pollution hotspots, like alongside highways or near construction sites. Factors like the plant’s location, airflow, traffic, weather and density of other vegetation will all affect how the plant performs.
“When the positive impact of Green Junkie on fine particulates will be explored, this vegetation can become a practical instrument to improve the quality and liveability of the city,” AMS writes.
Of course, even if the project is successful, one plant can only do so much. Amsterdam is working on other ways to cut pollution in the city. For instance, citizens may get incentives to drive electric cars, and eventually gas-powered cars will be banned. City buses are switching to electric, and will be powered by solar and wind by 2025. Ultimately, driving fewer cars is still the best way to fight pollution, AMS Institute’s Emily Parry explained to Fast Company.