A 14-foot ‘tree’ could be the key to healthier air in cities. Meet the 29-year-old horticulturist who designed it.

ING Peter Sänger

Summary List Placement

What if a city bench could provide a place not just to sit but also to breathe a little easier? That’s the idea behind CityTree, a 14-foot-high moss-covered, energy-efficient bench and air purifier that is popping up in cities throughout Europe and Asia. The ingenious piece of urban furniture uses the natural ability of living moss to bind with fine particles and remove them from the air — up to 82% of them — and Internet of Things (IoT) technology to measure and adjust its performance in real time.

CityTree is the brainchild of Peter Sänger, 29, a horticulturalist, entrepreneur, and the CEO of Green City Solutions. He first became passionate about fighting air pollution when traveling across the cities of Europe as a young man. “Cities are the living space of the future and have many benefits,” he says. “However, healthy air is not one of them in many places.” 

Sänger, who comes from a family of horticulturalists, knows what he’s talking about. Air pollution kills about 7 million people around the world every year, according to the World Health Organization. In places where air-quality levels exceed WHO limits, those fine particles in the air penetrate deep into the lungs and cardiovascular system, causing everything from strokes and heart disease to lung cancer and pneumonia. 

Today, 91% of the world’s population lives in such places. 

Bringing nature to the city

Sänger learned about the purifying effects of various kinds of plants — particularly moss — as a student of horticulture and business management at Dresden University in Germany. “That’s what got me excited — finding that the solution to air pollution can only emerge in combination with nature,” he says. “After all, nature has millions of years of experience in air purification.”

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When Sänger met Liang Wu, a fellow student who ran a workshop on urban design and environmental problems, he knew he had found a partner. “We shared the desire to develop an ecological and economic solution to this problem,” Sänger says. 

In 2014, before they graduated, the two friends had assembled a team of experts in horticulture, computer science, architecture, and mechanical engineering, and launched Green City Solutions. 

The company, which has 35 employees, set about answering a simple but challenging question: How can we bring nature into the city and use its positive effects on the atmosphere at scale? Its answer was the CityTree, which has the power to purify the breathing volume of 7,000 people per hour, using a combination of technology and design.

An oasis of breathability 

From the outside, the CityTree appears to be little more than a bench with a tower covered in moss. But inside is a fully automated, sensor-controlled irrigation system that provides the moss with optimal moisture. The integrated IoT technology provides constant feedback on performance and conditions, as well as environmental data from the surrounding area.

According to Green City Solutions, the CityTree improves the air quality around it by up to …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech

      

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