Lighting is an important component of any space: well-designed lighting creates a mood and brings life to a space. But what if that lighting fixture can also clean your air?
2017 was indeed a good year for London based inventor, engineer, and entrepreneur, Julian Melchiorri. Forbes recognized Melchiorri as a leading EU social entrepreneur under 30 and he was also awarded the Emerging Talent Medal at the London Design Festival as recognition of an individual having made an impact on design within five years of graduation.
Exhale, a stunning living, breathing chandelier designed by Melchiorri certainly deserved the accolades. Not only does it light up the room but also purifies the air at the same time. The chandelier shown at the festival was made up of 70 glass leaves filled with green algae which absorb carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, the perfect Eco-friendly light for our times. The Exhale Bionic Chandelier is now part of the V&A Museum’s permanent collection.
Melchiorri is probably best known for his ‘man-made leaf technologies’, the first of which was his Silk Leaf, a man-made plant that absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) and produces oxygen even in harsh conditions, including outer space.
To put it simply, this bionic chandelier can illuminate an area and purify the air at the same time.
Exhale, the first ever bionic chandelier with synthetic biological leaves and living algae
Instagram | @julianmelchiorri
Melchiorri based the chandelier on his previously developed ‘Silk Leaf’, an artificial leaf made of chloroplasts (the chlorophyll-containing part of the plant) stabilized in a silk protein. Water and nutrients are supplied to the leaf through osmosis, in a similar way to how natural leaves work. For the Exhale Chandelier, Melchiorri adapted the artificial leaves into 70 petals in three different sizes. Each petal contains green algae, sustained by a drip-feed of nutrients and water, and lit by LED lights. The algae absorbs carbon dioxide and ‘breathes out’ oxygen. The effect is a unique lighting fixture that purifies the air naturally.
Melchiorri envisions his artificial leaves and chandeliers eventually being used in applications such as ventilation systems, as free form surfaces for interiors, or even in space exploration. His goal is to develop new ways to mimic biological mechanisms to efficiently solve problems in an aesthetically pleasing way. In the future, will technology that mimics biological processes be capable of improving the urban environment on a large scale?
Instagram | @julianmelchiorr
Each synthetic leaf is held by a metal structure following a modular setup to mimic the natural shape of plants. You can use this bionic chandelier for both indoor and outdoor, or anyplace that needs air purification. In order to nourish the living algae, the lighting piece connects to a life-support-unit device. The bionic chandelier is still a prototype as of the moment. So, it’s likely to receive further modifications before it can be officially released to the market. But this innovative invention can significantly reduce air pollutants while adding a touch of elegance into our homes. We can all have properly illuminated rooms with a fresh, clean air to breathe in.
Melchiorri is also a biochemical technology researcher, and for numerous years, he has been trying to develop “artificial leaves” from various living organisms:
“Over the last century, our constantly growing population is burning fossil fuels and destroying plant life, basically forcing a change in the atmosphere and climate, reverse-terraforming our planet.
Having this constant issue in mind, [I] experiment[ed] with ways of making materials that can effectively photosynthesize and explored how this can positively impact the world around us.
These technologies can revolutionize our urban environment both at a product and architectural scale by purifying the air we breathe, sequestrating carbon dioxide and producing valuable bio-products, only using water and light.”
Therefore, the young inventor is determined to contribute to cleaner air.
This “living” chandelier is composed of 70 glass leaves filled with algae that purify the air.
Instagram | @life.as.seen.by.mel
Melchiorri also created the Silk Leaf, which is a man-made plant, that absorbs water and carbon dioxide (CO2) and produces oxygen, even in harsh conditions.
In the last four years, Melchiorri and his team from London food tech startup Arborea work on developing the BioSolar Leaf.
This product is designed from micro-algae, phytoplankton, and microscopic plants, planted along solar-panel-like structures, that can be put on rooftops or along the sides of buildings.
What is remarkable about it is that it purifies the air, provides electricity and grows proteins and sustainable food ingredients at the same time.
Melchiorri explained that the BioSolar Leaf panels would be excellent for generating electricity in crowded cities.
Their effects are now tested at ICL’s West London White City campus.
The green design is the creation of emerging design-engineer Julian Melchiorri, who also created the world’s first synthetic biological leaf.
According to Professor Neil Alford of Imperial College:
“Air pollution is one of London’s most urgent challenges, and Imperial is committed to finding sustainable and resilient solutions to this threat. This collaboration with Arborea is an exceptional opportunity to showcase the power of Cleantech.”
“When I founded Arborea my goal was to tackle climate change while addressing the critical issues related to the food system. This pilot plant will produce sustainable healthy food additives while purifying the air, producing oxygen and removing carbon dioxide from the surrounding environment.”
Remember, we can all decrease our carbon footprint and help to save our planet by using environment-friendly products on a daily basis.
We can all impact our environment, even with the smallest gestures, like buying reusable items made from sustainable materials, avoiding plastic products, choosing recycled goods, and using natural cleaning items.