Closing loops with NBS

Nature based solutions – the utilisation of organisms and ecosystems to provide services – are gaining more and more interest and scientific importance as is shown in the EU Research & Innovation policy agenda on Nature Based Solutions [1].

Examples of nature-based technologies (NBT), which are explored by alchemia-nova, are water and air purification by plants and microorganisms as well as extraction of metals from soils or other substrates by metal-accumulating plants (phytomining and agromining).

Other or additional functions are manyfold and start by cooling of cities by greening roofs and walls, providing shelter and food for other organisms including humans, increasing biodiversity, showing positive psychological effects on humans (calming, recreational), possible retention of runoff water and flood mitigation, capturing and storing CO2, and possibly providing energy. So, if we use our main functions of water treatment or metal recovery, we can get all the other benefits as well.

Biological processes, which have been optimised during millions of years of evolution, can be used for human purposes in NBS (bio-utilisation). One additional advantage of biological systems is also, that materials can be used in circular ways and nutrients are conserved in the system.