self powered microalgae street lamp absorbs CO2 self powered microalgae street lamp absorbs CO2
apr 24, 2012

self powered microalgae street lamp absorbs CO2

pierre calleja has developed a CO2-absorbing, self-powered lamp for use as street lighting, currently in prototype testing in france (above image is a concept composite)

french biochemist pierre calleja has developed a lamp for use as street lighting as well as in indoor spaces that is powered without electricity, absorbing carbon dioxide as it functions. beta testing of a prototype streetlight is currently in progress in a parking lot in bordeaux, france.

the lamps are composed of a tube containing microalgae, as well as a battery during the day, the batteries are charged via photosynthesis of the algae, using both solar power and CO2 (both of which are usable by the plantlife). this means that the lamps represent a viable electricity-free lighting solution even for locations where there is no or little natural light, such as underground parking garages. at night, the stored power is used for lighting.

calleja notes that about 25% of CO2 present in the air is thought to be generated from car exhaust, so using the devices as roadside lighting helps solve two social problems at once, each unit absorbing an estimated ton of emissions per year. in fact microalgae is more efficient than trees, to the extent that each lamp absorbs a reported 150 to 200 times from CO2 than a tree.

pierre calleja discusses the microalgae street lamps, in a video for shamengo social good promoters

the microalgae in the tube

scaled properly, the lamp can be used in indoor spaces as well as roadside

calleja imagines the lamp utilized as air purifier, display piece, and lighting in shops

filling the lamp form with microalgae-containing fluid

via dvice

  • ok but… what happens when the algae dies?
    It will release all the co2 previously captured.

    So the final result has no influence on the environment.
    Just plant some tree and the result is the same!

    The best way to capture co2 is biochar

    gd says:

    Plant a tree

    aLEX N MONTREAL says:
  • No! The CO2 will be sequestered to more complex carbon structures, i.e. sugar that are turned back to CO2 during aerobic respiration. However more CO2 will be turned into complex carbons resulting in a net loss of CO2 from the atmosphere once the algea dies

    PGS says:
  • thanks designboom for highlighting some of the worst photoshopping anyone could ever hope to produce

    tarf says:
  • (@gd)
    1. question
    2. fabricate answer
    3. try to reason with this answer
    5. …
    5. plug in opinion as fact. Profit!

    (From your statements: planting a tree has no influence the environment )

    This is the actual answer to your initial question:
    Algae + CO2 + sunlight = O2 + more Algae

    The Algae can be used as a replacement for the oil in most of the oil based industry.
    Even without cars, we still would like to have oils to create plastics etc.

    Trees don’t generate light.

    mm says:
  • ZOMG! Someone haz da mad photoshop skillz!!

    (and it´s always nice to be writting the damn validation code 5 times and still says “invalid code”…).

    What? says:
  • show some respect please. this is not a designer but a biochemist why should he be good in photoshop? I bet you suck in biochemistry…

    NHCM says:
  • I dont think the light diffuse would be enough to lit an outdoor area or even a room.

    NK says:
  • aLEX N MONTREAL, i can forgive you for not knowing off the top of your head that algae (and microalgae) is way way more efficient than the equivalent volume of tree. i cannot forgive you for (a) not reading that info in the article (b) missing the fact that trees cannot provide lighting for cars and pedestrians, so ‘Planting a tree’ is missing a good half of the point of this project.

    tom 'n london says:
  • to be fair, i will also not forgive myself for missing mm\’s more succinctly stated point to that effect in the comment above. kudos! 🙂

    tom 'n london says:
  • if it really works its great, I’m ready to make the design 😉

    antoine says:
  • Here in the Nordic countries dark==winter==freezing temperatures, and I mean minus 20 and below for months in a row. Will this work?
    Otherwise yes, go ahead and plant trees as well!! You just cannot plant a tree everywhere where this lamp could stand.

    Tina says:
  • Please go ahead! Finally! We’ve played with the concepts of such designs in 1991, and we all wondered how Japan can clone a beautiful orchid glowing in the dark, but the green-energy possessed West can’t implement the same concept for basic everyday light. Algae are a brilliant option, they also release most of Earth’s free oxygen and are general filters. The roads might end up smelling a bit “green” but no comment as to how they smell currently.

    To those detractors: 1) Get a life, this is one of the most common-sense solutions to one of humankind’s basic requirements. 2) Pleeeeze learn to spel. Too many “texters” online. Poor grama & speloinck makes you sound under-eddicatidd.

    kalinka says:
  • @ Antoine: Maybe the algae can be modified by splicing cold-resistant genes from Antarctic algae to overcome the cold problem.

    kalinka says:
  • Do you have any video of that? I’d care to find out more details.

    Dorothea says:
  • @gd

    “ok but… what happens when the algae dies?
    It will release all the co2 previously captured.
    So the final result has no influence on the environment.
    Just plant some tree and the result is the same!”

    What a ridiculous comment. When a human dies do we release all the oxygen we have captured? No, of course not.

    Did you listen to the video/ pay any attention at all? Clearly states microalgae are MORE effective than trees, thus the results are scientifically proven not to be ‘the same’

    Truff says:
  • What type of algae is used for this?

    Suresh kumar sk says:
  • @ Dorothea: Thank you for commenting on the comment from gd; hirs was a ridiculous comment.

    We’re talking electricity generation. How many trees are being directly tapped for their energy? If a device like that this is more effective than a tree at lowering CO2 levels, and raising oxygen levels, while also generating electricity, I say let’s get the cost of mass producing it down to reasonable, so we can actually make it worthwhile for cities and businesses to buy it.

    @ Truff: Probably, Chlorella vulgaris (a microalgae) and Ulva lactuca (a macroalgae). See

    Alyras says:
  • how can the algae absorbs co2 from the atmosphere in this closed glass condition??if you say it is opened then the water would be evaporated then?then how can you grow this algae?/

    suresh kumar says:

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