Plants as Indoor Natural Air Purifiers

December 27, 2010 by


Green Flow

In its study of the effects of plants on interior air quality and sick air syndrome, NASA pointed out that “if man is to move into closed environments, he must take along nature’s life support system.”

Green Flow, recipient of the James Dyson International Design Award, is a desktop air purifier that plugs in via USB to your computer. It claims to clean the air using Tillandsia Usneiodes, or air plants, as the filter.

Air Purifiers Feature Award-Winning Design


Andrea Air Purifier

A number of designers have produced indoor air purifiers utilizing plants. One of these, the Andrea, which we wrote about last year, claims to “harness the power of nature to create clean air for your family.” The Andrea is beautifully designed, has won numerous awards, and been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art. But do these air purifiers perform any better than simply placing the same plants inside your space?

Consumer Reports reported that its test on the Andrea indicated that it did not help remove dust, pollen, or smoke. Their report claimed that Andrea’s manufacturers misrepresented a study cited on the their website, which included a prototype of a purifier using a potted plant in a 16×12 ft. test chamber with 10-foot ceilings. In that space, explained Jianshun S. Zhang, Ph.D., professor and director of energy and indoor environmental systems at Syracuse University, and the lead author of the Andrea study, “it would take four Andrea-type purifiers to have a significant effect on formaldehyde, a common VOC. The potted-plant purifier we tested in that study actually did not perform well,” he added. “They are misrepresenting my study.”


O2 by Tian Lingruel. Photo from Yanko Design.

Another plant air filter system, The O2 by Tian Lingruel, employs a tray on which one places a plant pot to supposedly accelerate the photosynthesis process thereby increasing the amount of oxygen in the air.

Even if the air purifying portion is no better than the potted plant alone, the O2 system will help the forgetful as it monitors water absorption, alerting users when the plant requires watering.


Aura, by Ben McGinley

Using only sunlight and plants to purify the air, the Aura, by Ben McGinley, doesn’t contain any fans, pumps, filters or require any electricity.

Plants grow in a removable inner pot that directs airflow around the roots, a key filtration area. The stacking pot system moves air naturally while sunlight heats the air within the chamber, forcing it upward.

Luo Cong Ying’s O2 Releasing Air Cleaner (below) relies on similar principles of artificial photosynthesis to transform carbon dioxide and water from the air into oxygen.

Singapore designer, Sherly Gunawan, was also inspired by research like the NASA study, in her development of GreenAir, another prototype for an indoor air purifier utilizing plants. GreenAir’s fan, using a solar panel as the energy source, pulls air to the root area proporting to enable larger amounts of contaminants to be purified in a shorter amount of time. The air purifier, like Lingruel’s O2 System, also contains a self watering mechanism, this one using a nylon thread as an extension of the root.


GreenAir

Best 12 Indoor Plants for Purifing Air
The NASA study suggested that 12 common indoor plants may provide a natural way of removing toxic agents such as benzeneformaldehyde and  trichloroethylene from the air, helping neutralize the effects of sick building syndrome. The plants cited were:

1. Bamboo Palm (chamaedorea seifrizii)

Photo: PlantCare


2. Chinese Evergreen (aglaonema modestum)


Photo: Tidy’s Flowers

3. English Ivy (hedera helix)

Photo: LogHome


4. Gerbera Daisy (gerbera jamesonii)


Photo: Guide to Houseplants


5. Janet Craig (dracaena deremensis ‘janet craig’)


6. Marginata (dracaena marginata)

Photo: AlphaBotanical


7. Mass Cane/Corn Cane (dracaena massengeana)


Photo: LaRose


8. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (sansevieria laurentii)


Photo: Wallace Garden Center


9. Peace Lily (spathiphyllum ‘mauna loa’)


10. Pot Mum (chrysanthemum morifolium)


11. Warneckei (aka striped dracaena and dracaena deremensis)


12. Ficus (ficus benjamina)

NASA Study Conclusions
“Low-light houseplants, along with activated carbon plant filters,” the NASA study concluded, “have demonstrated the potential  for improving indoor air quality by removing trace organic pollutants from the air in energy-efficient buildings. The plant root-soil zone appears to be the most effective area for removing volatile organic chemicals.”

What’s Your Take?
We’d like to know what you think: do these gadgets enhance the process or can we purify indoor air just as well with houseplants alone?

28 Comments »

  1. Georgia said:

    I’ll stick with my potted plants for now instead of another gadget. Go, go peace lily!

    — December 28, 2010 @ 10:23

  2. Annie Haven said:

    I love those O2 containers wonderful finds : ) Annie

    — December 28, 2010 @ 11:11

  3. Barbara said:

    Enjoy the plant without the add-ons!

    — December 28, 2010 @ 17:01

  4. oxygen plants said:

    Oxygen Plants, Nitrogen Plants, Oxygen Plants Manufacturers, Nitrogen Plants Manufacturers, Nitrogen Plants Suppliers India Bangalore.

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    — December 29, 2010 @ 06:54

  5. Oxyplants said:

    Oxyplants India deals mainly with Oxygen Gas plants, Nitrogen Gas plants, Acetylene gas plants. We are renowned as the Manufacturer of Oxygen Plants, Nitrogen Plants and Acetylene plants.
    Nitrogen Plants

    — January 6, 2011 @ 00:32

  6. Oxygen Plants said:

    Oxyplants India deals mainly with Oxygen plants, Nitrogen plants. We are renowned as the Manufacturer of Oxygen Plants, Nitrogen Plants and Acetylene plants.

    — January 6, 2011 @ 07:32

  7. Oxyplants said:

    Oxyplants India deals mainly with Oxygen Gas plants, Nitrogen Gas plants, Acetylene gas plants. We are renowned as the Manufacturer of Oxygen Plants, Nitrogen Plants and Acetylene plants.
    OXYGEN PLANTS

    — January 8, 2011 @ 00:08

  8. old goat said:

    Of course a solar panel for charging the fan would take it to the next level

    — August 2, 2011 @ 18:03

  9. Oxygen Plants said:

    Oxyplants India deals mainly with Oxygen plants, Nitrogen plants. We are renowned as the Manufacturer of Oxygen Plants, Nitrogen Plants and Acetylene plants.Oxygen Plants Manufacturers, Oxygen Plants, Nitrogen Plants, Nitrogen Plants Manufacturers, Nitrogen Plants Suppliers India.

    — December 19, 2011 @ 02:35

  10. Oxyplants said:

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    Visit more: http://www.oxyplants.net/oxygenplant.php

    — April 20, 2012 @ 01:48

  11. Oxyplants said:

    Oxyplants India deals mainly with Oxygen plants, Nitrogen plants. We are renowned as the Manufacturer of Oxygen Plants, Nitrogen Plants and Acetylene plants.

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    — May 9, 2012 @ 01:35

  12. Oxygen Plants Manufacturers said:

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    — May 16, 2012 @ 03:18

  13. Ten Cool Plantable Light Fixtures | Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […] imagination and ingenuity, they save space functioning at once as lighting and planters while also filtering indoor air. The light these fixtures emit provides the needed illumination required for indoor pants to thrive […]

    — March 19, 2013 @ 17:41

  14. Ashok said:

    As per our experience , The plants like Gerbera and Chrysanthemum does not perform well in INDOOR .

    Chrysanthemum need full bright sun light for the growing . And Gerbera plant needs partial shade for the growth and flowering .

    — March 20, 2013 @ 08:45

  15. 3D Printed Planter Bricks | Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […] to looking great, Planter Bricks provide a number of benefits. The plants buffer sound, help filter surrounding air, and through evapotranspiration and pollution conversion, they also aid in mediating the […]

    — April 6, 2013 @ 14:12

  16. Oxyplants India said:

    Oxyplants India deals mainly with Oxygen plants, Nitrogen plants. We are renowned as the Manufacturer of Oxygen Plants, Nitrogen Plants and Acetylene plants.

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    For more details Visit :- http://www.oxyplants.net/

    — May 7, 2013 @ 06:30

  17. Ten Futuristic Garden Tools | Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […] with roses to no avail, or painstakingly crafted a backyard flower patch, the new generation of garden gadgets could make your life easier. Here are ten of the most intriguing new techie tools for green and […]

    — June 10, 2013 @ 15:57

  18. Cleanest, Greenest Desk Uses Three Indoor Plants to Grow Fresh Air | Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […] that by placing certain plants in specific locations indoors, a building can actually grow fresh air. Meattle gave a TED talk on the phenomenon back in […]

    — June 21, 2013 @ 18:44

  19. Mais LIMPO e mais VERDE | paisagismolegal Pingback said:

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    — June 25, 2013 @ 07:19

  21. Evidence shows plants improve health - Urban Gardens Pingback said:

    […] were certainly on to something. In addition to the environmental benefits like improved air quality, a scientific review of the psychological benefits of indoor plants published in the Journal of […]

    — October 29, 2013 @ 17:05

  22. Cleaning Art – Tilandsia | Greenology Organic Living Pingback said:

    […] Plants proven to be indoor air cleaners in Nasa Study […]

    — January 23, 2014 @ 13:35

  23. StaceyP said:

    I was actually reading this with some seriousness until I saw “supposedly accelerate the photosynthesis process thereby increasing the amount of CO2 in the air.”

    Go back to HS Biology – photosynthesis increases the amount of OXYGEN in the air. This is why it’s important to have plants around.

    — September 3, 2015 @ 21:56

  24. Robin Horton said:

    Seems this slipped by us! Thank you Stacey for catching this error–we have corrected it!

    — September 4, 2015 @ 11:37

  25. Robin Horton said:

    Great idea!

    — September 4, 2015 @ 11:39

  26. Robin Horton said:

    Thanks Annie!

    — September 4, 2015 @ 11:39

  27. Robin Horton said:

    I see what you mean Georgia. We love to share new ideas though to generate conversation and ya never know where it might lead–maybe to a new idea?

    — September 4, 2015 @ 11:40

  28. Birdhouses That Offer Air Quality Info and Free WiFi Pingback said:

    […] smart birdhouses in Amsterdam measure air quality then alert the public with illuminated green LED lights when the air is clean, and when it […]

    — June 17, 2016 @ 14:19

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