An astonishing 5-meter-high tree-shaped air purifier stands on the Jean-Jaurès alleys in Toulouse, as part of a “smart city” experiment led by the metropolis. The start-up Kyanos Biotechnologies, specialized in microalgae, installed in September 2020 this “algal tree” composed of a tank of 1 cubic meter of water containing different strains of microalgae.
Ambient air enters from below and rises through the tank. Microalgae retain some of the CO2 and automotive pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and fine particles, and release oxygen through photosynthesis. In theory, this device should treat 200,000 cubic meters of air per year and sequester as much carbon as a hundred trees!
A partnership to measure
Rubix S&I, another Toulouse start-up, has added its device to precisely measure the effects on air quality. This company, founded in 2016, has created a system for analyzing environmental nuisances (gas, odors, particles, allergens, noise, etc.) in cities and buildings., by installing connected sensors and analyzing the data collected with artificial intelligence.
Two microsensors were installed on the algal tree, which measure the chemical composition of the air entering and leaving. A third sensor is placed on a neighboring candelabra to know the characteristics of the ambient air. The data is transmitted in real time to the Rubix S&I platform which analyzes performance. The results will be communicated in September.
Cyclotrophy, a patented techno
“We want to prove that the system is efficient from an environmental and economic point of view, Explain Vinh Ly, president of Kyanos Biotechnologies. Other communities aware of air quality have already contacted us. “ This former Airbus engineer, a graduate of Isae-Supaero, discovered microalgae in the biofuel tested by the aircraft manufacturer.
Vinh Ly was passionate about their production and co-founded his company in 2016. Then he recruited in 2018 the doctor in microbiology Pierre-Alain Hoffmann, designer of the patented “cyclotrophy” technology, which increases the productivity of algae while respecting the planet. This is about growing other microorganisms that are eaten by the microalgae and prevent contaminants from growing.
Kyanos Biotechnologies uses blue microalgae Aphanizomenon flos aquae (AFA), a cyanobacterium containing 60% protein that directly scavenges nitrogen from the air and does not need nitrogen fertilizer. It comes only from Klamath Lake in the USA and has never been cultivated before. The company has been selling its seaweed for a year to food supplement distributors and will increase its production capacity this year.
To develop cyclotrophy and make a pre-industrial pilot, it has just raised 2.6 million euros in aid and equity from bpifrance, the Occitanie region, the Ademe future investment program and two confirmed biotech entrepreneurs, Régis Nouaille, who founded Afyren, and Zsolt Popsé, president of GPC Bio.
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