This Biophilic Air Purifier Converts Algae Into a Plastic Alternative

04.02.24 | By
This Biophilic Air Purifier Converts Algae Into a Plastic Alternative

Air purifiers are by and large all roughly the same – a fan draws air in from the room to capture dust, pollutants, dander, pollen, and sometimes germs through layers of filtration material before expelling it out for easier breathing. But London-based architecture and design firm ecoLogicStudio believes an air purifier can aspire to be much more, both in its aesthetic design and within the larger context of circularity.

AIReactor air purifier and Compostable Stool set alongside a beaker of algal liquid.

The Photo.Synth.Etica Collection comprising the AIReactor air purifier, a Compostable Stool, and a Biodigital Ring

Marco Poletto and Claudia Pasquero of London-based architecture and design firm ecoLogicStudio standing near a window looking outside, at their feet is the AIReactor air purifier and behind them is a large metal shelf lab-grade borosilicate glass containers displayed on their sides.

Marco Poletto and Claudia Pasquero of London-based architecture and design firm ecoLogicStudio

The 3-piece PhotoSynthetica™ collection developed by Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto operate as a biophilic circular system, with the AIReactor at the heart of a process employing filtered air to stimulate algal growth. In turn, the renewable material grown is eventually gathered to be converted into a biopolymer, a plastic substitute ecoLogicStudio uses with a 3D printer to create PhotoSynthetica’s two other products: a compostable stool and a biodigital ring.

Three AIReactor air purifiers: left with just the CNC birch plywood frame, middle with lab-grade borosilicate glass container placed within frame, and last one on right with CNC birch plywood, borosilicate glass container and algal growth liquid inside. A cardboard box intended for shipping the AIReactor air purifier is on the far right.

The AIReactor looks nothing like any other air purifier, resembling something closer to the combination of a mid-century Japanese wood floor lamp combined with laboratory equipment. Interlocking pieces of birch plywood support a 1-meter-tall lab-grade glass “photobioreactor,” which hosts up to 10 liters of living photosynthetic micro-algae cultures.

Young teen girl in light turtleneck seated on compostable stool while gathering algal growth from a lab-grade borosilicate glass container using a plastic tube.

Each reactor can capture diverse air pollutants: 20 grams of CO2 (carbon dioxide) per day; 0,14 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter; 0,29 micrograms of PM10 per cubic meter; and 0,69 micrograms of NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) per cubic meter.

The photobioreactor itself is formulated to absorb carbon dioxide and pollutants while oxygenating the air captured from the environment. That same air is used to constantly stir the green algae soup, simulating the waves and currents of the ocean that spur the algae to grow, averaging about 7 grams of material per day.

This collection is born from the dream of growing the city of the future from the waste and pollution of our current fossil civilization. More than products these first three objects are tools to start a collective process of urban re-metabolization.

— Dr. Marco Poletto

Young teen boy seated on pleated compostable stool made from a natural colored biopolymer. He is reading a magazine with a shelf full of lab-grade borosilicate glass containers set on their sides.

Despite its airy form, the pleated stool is capable of supporting vertical loads required by seating, sharing the physical flexible traits of a plant stem. The stool is 3D printed with a bespoke compound of flexible PLA/PHB biodegradable and compostable filament sourced from the air filter.

Woman in a white button up shirt and dark jacket wearing a biophilic design ring on two of her fingers with her left arm across her chest.

The biodigital ring is composed of 30% of algal biomass on a base of polylactic acid (PLA). The ring weighs 20 grams, approximately the same amount as the daily air filtration of one AIReactor.

AIReactor and the first series of compostable stools are now part of the permanent design collection of the Mudac – Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts in Lausanne (Switzerland).

To learn more about PhotoSynthetica or the work of Claudia Pasquero and Marco Poletto, visit

Photography by Pepe Fotografia for ecoLogicStudio.

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at