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Climate Change

Published on March 7th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Microalgae Lamp Absorbs 150-200 Times More CO2 than a Tree!

March 7th, 2012 by  


OK, first of all, this CO2-absorbing street lamp looks super cool! Secondly, it absorbs CO2! Thirdly, 150-200 times more than a tree! OK, I’m calming down, and I realize it has a ways to go to get to actual widespread use in the real, physical, CO2-filled world.


French biochemist Pierre Calleja looks pretty serious about it.

I don’t know much about the details of all this, but it looks pretty promising to me.

h/t Grist

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

  • Kodandaram Balaji

    Hi, great idea, We are an organisation in India, who works for the natural resources , we are interested in marketing the same, let me have more details

  • Alyas

    Wow… there are some remarkably stupid people commenting on things before they read an article or watch a video.

    The algae is BIOLUMINSCENT… the “lamps” require zero power to operate, and only their creation consumes any significant resources.


    • People love to do that. Saw this popped up on reddit and saw many comments along those lines. I love reddit, but have to say, too many people there are eager to comment before they understand what they’re commenting about.

  • BarryG

    I’m one of those that believe that the problem 50 years from now is that humanity will be sucking too much carbon from the atmosphere in order to build things. Trees are almost entirely made of carbon from the air, humanity will learn to spin the air into carbon nano-tube building material. About 5% of oil production is already used to make building materials: plastic. This will increase.

  • JMin2020

    This is great Zach. Thanks for the post. I hope this company finfd all the financing it needs to grow.

    • Thanks. I’m eager to hear more about it. Seems promising.

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  • anderlan

    Wait, why are you going to put algae around a lamp? It’s inefficient, blocking light created by power that you had to convert and store earlier from sunlight or wind at an overhead cost (non-perfect efficiency). Why not grow algae with sunlight? Not entirely underpants-gnome-level futility, but kind of silly.

    Here’s what I want to know, how does his algae strain and growing/harvesting technique stand up against all the others out there? All algae fixates carbon. And it has to be harvested, and buried, or probably better, used by people, because it will be used by something else and release the carbon back out anyway.

    • Definitely not an efficient plan. Seems more of a novelty or green wash item.

      France derives ~75% of its electricity from nuclear sources so it might actually work out as a rapid reduction method in the future after they have cut out the ~12% fossil fuel in their electric mix and switched to electric transport.

      • Bob_Wallace

        France is installing a lot of wind and solar.

        France has had some ‘come to jeebus’ experiences when they found themselves buying solar-electricity from Germany during the recent cold snap. And when they’ve had to shut reactors down in heat waves because there was not adequate cooling water.

        Of course, having a reactor blow up in your neighborhood and then watching a bunch of them go sour in a very technologically advanced country has made the French start to think that maybe they don’t love nuclear as much as they used to.

        Can you imagine loosing truffles to drifting radioactive crap?

        Quel désastre !

    • Communinja

      During the day, it would likely be powered by sunlight. The lamps would be for night use. At least, that would make sense to me.

    • allpraizjeebus

      lol, the algae creates the light

  • Ross

    I like an environmentally friendly story as much as the next person but how could this ever make sense. If the algae is growing presumably there must be a way of harvesting it from the lamp. Could it ever be economic to collect it?

    • Algae can be used for all sorts of things, so I imagine the answer is ‘yes’

    • anderlan

      Right,it seems easier to collect algae from ponds or tilted panels, or you know, something designed with easy and inexpensive harvesting in mind, as opposed to, you know, light fixtures(!?)…

      • Bob_Wallace

        Hours spent cleaning fish tanks comes to mind….

        • Wait, we can add snails to the tanks and then eat the snails!

          As with whales, you lose significant energy at each level of the food chain but they are much easier to harvest and can make up for efficiency in collection area and energy density. Too bad they take longer to grow and would never be able to meet demand (whales and snails both).

        • Bob_Wallace

          I had snails in my tanks.

          I cleaned what the snails didn’t get with a single edge razor blade.

          These folks need to be inventing a blade that is easy to use on a curved surface….

    • Communinja

      If there was a convenient tap on it for pumping out the higher concentration algae solution, and replacing it with a low concentration, I could see this working. Additionally, the harvested algae could be used as fertilizer or processed as biofuel.

  • Mattpeffly

    1 ton of CO2 a year per lamp.
    What the lamp cost to buy?
    How much does it cost to run a year? (kWhrs)
    How much CO2 produced to make one?
    Then I would know how many years it takes to break even on CO2. And if my knees should be weak.

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