Dec 5, 2022 - News

BioUrban, the "tree of the future," makes a splash in Miami

Four men stand beside a tall cylindrical machine with glowing green algae inside it and a digital display on top.

One of these artificial trees was installed in Mexico to reduce pollution levels. Photo courtesy of ClimateTrade

A "tree of the future" was one of the more eye-catching projects on display during Miami Art Week.

  • The air purification device, called BioUrban, uses microalgae to turn carbon dioxide and air pollutants into oxygen.

Why it matters: Carbon capture is needed to curb emissions and slow global warming.

  • One of these algae-based "trees" can capture from 2 to 130 tons of CO2 per year, its developers claim. For perspective, a mature tree, which can take in more CO2 than a newly planted one, absorbs around 50 pounds, or .025 tons, of carbon dioxide over a year, per the Arbor Day Foundation.

How it works: Microalgae in the device — which is made by Mexican technology company BiomiTech — absorb and feed on pollutant particles and convert them into oxygen and biomass via photosynthesis, according to Miami-based Climate Trade.

  • The BioUrban devices are offered in varying sizes. Smaller ones could be installed indoors while larger ones are designed for outside to reduce pollution levels in cities.

The cost: BioUrban devices are sold under leasing agreements. The 3.0 device, the biggest offered, costs $3,600 a month, maintenance included.

Zoom in: BioUrban made its U.S. debut last week as part of the launch of Miami's Future of Cities Climate + Innovation Hub — a new, net-zero office building designed to function as both a community gathering space and center for climate solutions.

  • It was only in town for the week.

What to watch: Miami real estate developer Tony Cho, who's behind the hub, told Axios to expect more such projects from the new space.

  • Cho said they'll be working with the county to bring climate tech startups and entrepreneurs to Miami to work out of the hub.
  • "All our projects will be living laboratories for urban and nature-based innovation," Cho told Axios.
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