Pittsburgh International Airport just installed a giant algae air purifier

Pittsburgh International Airport’s xBridge opened in 2020 and has become a 10,000-square-foot innovation center. Drawing from the region’s strong innovation economy, the airport is a proof-of-concept site for technologies in a real operating environment and a pilot site for companies’ first facilities.

The airport has partnered with Honeywell to test technology to improve indoor air quality and Carnegie Robotics to test the first autonomous floor scrubbers with germ-killing UV technology.

Cole Wolfson, Director of xBridge at Pittsburgh International Airport, said xBridge innovation at its best includes startups, mid-sized tech, big tech and universities in Pittsburgh, and Xbridge is built to tap into the region’s talent.

In September 2022, the airport added another innovative technology to the xBridge innovation center. He installed a giant algae air purifier from startup AlgenAir that will reduce carbon dioxide in baggage claim.

aerium, AlgenAir’s first commercial product, is a living technology that uses algae to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) indoors. The eight-foot tall installation holds approximately 125 gallons of spirulina algae and has the same photosynthetic capacity as more than 5,000 indoor plants. It can be recycled into downstream applications such as fertilizers, composting, nutrition, pigments, bioplastics or biofuels.

Kelsey Abernathy, co-founder and CEO of AlgenAir, said the living technology combines algal bioremediation with energy-efficient engineering to combat indoor air pollution and the future of green buildings.

“Modern buildings have elevated indoor CO2 levels, which are harmful to the respiratory health of the people inside,” said Abernathy. “Aerium uses the incredible photosynthetic power of microalgae, which consume CO2 and produce oxygen more efficiently than [..] plants.

Abernathy said the technology allows next-generation green buildings to maintain energy efficiency without sacrificing the health of the people inside.

“Partnering with AlgenAir allows us to test a new technology that can positively impact the passenger travel experience by supporting better indoor air quality,” said Wolfson. “Their airbed has the potential to be an important element of PIT’s new, greener airport terminal, naturally improving indoor air quality through algae, which has never been done before.”

The gas facility is located in baggage claim between gates three and five until December 2022. The algae used in the facility was grown by AlgenAir at its algae growing facility in Pittsburgh, PA.

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