naturebased solutions for a sustainable future
Phytotechnology describes the application of plant-related science and engineering to study problems and provide solutions for technical and socio-ecological challenges. As a subfield of ecotechnology it emphasizes the use of distinct plant-inherent processes within technical applications. These nature-based technologies have become alternatives to conventional technologies due to low capital costs, high success rates, low maintenance requirements, high intrinsic sustainability, end use value, and aesthetic nature.
alchemia-nova has developed several innovative phytotechnologies to the point where they can be turned into commercial products. To this end the spin-off company blue carex phytotechnologies GmbH has been established. Principal among these innovations is the building integrated vertical ecosystem, which we call vertECO®. Its main purpose is to treat and clean greywater as well as industrial wastewaters. The purified water can subsequently be used to flush toiletts, for watering green areas and even for laundry washing. vertECO offers multiple addtitional benefits while being an affordable investment adjusted to customised design preferences.
To name the most important benefits:
- water savings of 50% or more
- improved and attractive living environment
- evident commitment to the environment and sustainable business practices
- microclimatic benefits, such as cooling and air humidification
- reduced costs, preservation of natural resources and improved well being for people
vertECO has been optimised and validated in the course of the European joint research project demEAUmed. The project investigated practical and future oriented solutions for sustainable water management in touristic facilities, particularly in Mediterranean regions with water scarcity. The demonstration site is located at Hotel Samba, Lloret de Mar, Spain.
This robust and reliable solution offers important cost savings, very high pollution removal rates and low energy consumption per cubic metre of treated water. A combination with photovoltaics is possible to further reduce resource consumption. Buildings and facilities with high water consumption (like hotels for example) benefit the most from this technology. Another elegant feature is that water users are not subjected to any restrictions of lifestyle changes, in fact, their living surroundings are even improved.
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Further products are being readied for the market. Various physiological plant properties are used to restore ecosystems by remediating contaminants in soil, sediments or water (e.g. rhizofiltration, pyhtoextraction, biosorption, phytosequestration, phytohydraulics, rhizodegradation, phytovolatisation and phytodegradation). Tapping these processes, alchemia-nova and blue carex phytotechnologies emphasize degradation properties of organic pollutants, accumulation of metals, as well as extraction of these metals (biomining or the subfield phytomining).
We use these different physiological properties of plants for new environmentally sustainable strategies to solve societal, ecological and technical challenges.