When tracking the evolution of mankind we find that our evolution is closely linked to the various tools and materials that we discovered, invented and exploited.
Many of the tools that helped to propel our species were inspired by our natural environment, things like fire, the wheel and metal. As our societies became more sophisticated so too did our tools.
However, while we were so obsessed with developing smarter technology that could generate more wealth for us, we were creating an even bigger problem in the background - an environmental crisis.
Today we are faced with a global climate crisis that is only getting worse. Major corporations are trying to shift the guilt of major waste issues onto the individual and attempting to convince people to limit their use of single-use plastics and recycle their waste.
But the problem with this is that the unsustainable business practices of the oil, food, fashion, paper, etc, industries continue to operate unchecked.
Many designers, engineers and biologists have therefore taken it upon themselves to try and tackle the environmental issues that we face today.
One of these people is inventor Julian Melchiorri. An inventor, designer and engineer, Melchiorri is best known for his ‘man-made leaf technologies’.
One of his first endeavors into the technology was the invention of the Silk Leaf. The Silk Leaf is a man-made plant that is capable of absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) and producing oxygen even in incredibly harsh conditions.
His latest invention is the BioSolar Leaf. The BioSolar Leaf is made up of microalgae, phytoplankton and microscopic plants that are planted along solar-panel-like structures.
These structures can be installed alongside buildings and on rooftops and are capable of absorbing CO2 in the air and producing oxygen, thus cleaning the air.
According Melchiorri, the BioSolar Leaf allows urban areas to reap the benefits of having a dense forest area without having the space to accommodate it. The leaf is said to be capable of doing the work of 100 trees on the surface area of one, producing breathable oxygen 100 times more than an acre of forest.
These microplants are also capable of growing proteins and sustainable food ingredients.
The mission of the BioSolar leaf is not only to clean the air in our urban environments but also to accelerate the global transition to sustainable food by producing sustainable and healthy food ingredients through their cultivation system.
These sustainable and organic ingredients add anti-oxidising and nutritional benefits to the food. And because the plants do not make use of soil it does not contribute to deforestation.
Run by Melchiorri’s start-up company Arborea, the project was launched with the help of Imperial College London, which is also the location of the project pilot.
The work of Aborea is important because as human expansion increases so too does mass urbanisation. This means that there will be less and less farming spaces in order to grow food as well as less natural environments like forests and swamps.
Without these plant species our oxygen supply as well as our food supply will lessen placing the human race in a complicated situation.
While inventions like the Silk Leaf and the BioSolar Leaf is important, we need to do more to counter the increasing climate issues that face us today.