(32d) Building-Integrated Active Modular Phytoremediation System

Authors: 
Dyson, A., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute/Center for Architecture Science and Ecology
Aydogan Akseli, A., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Vollen, J., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Nyman, M., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute



Contemporary construction materials and mechanical building ventilation systems types are complicit in the degradation of indoor air quality (IAQ) and have become principal contributors to public health concerns in developed countries. These challenges are further exacerbated by the increasing cost of energy that is required to maintain healthy levels of IAQ in these buildings. Addressing these issues will require not only innovative technologies and approaches, but also deep collaborations across several disciplines.

This research stems from an interdisciplinary framework for the development of a building-integrated phytoremediation system using bio-mechanical techniques to ‘scrub’ toxins from the air and maintain desired psychometric profiles for IAQ by integrating modules containing hydroponic-supported plant materials into heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. This research is multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary in scope, with the precise goal of integrating lab-based testing protocols to reiterative architectural systems design parameters.

There are three scopes that will be presented within this research: 1.Parametric framework for information exchange across disciplines; 2.Acqusition of scientific data on the sorption of VOCs (e.g., formaldehyde and benzene) to growing media and granular activated carbon, removal efficiency of the selected VOCs from air utilizing the building-integrated phytoremediation system and the effect of phytoremediation as a bio-mechanical technique to remove formaldehyde and benzene from indoor air and; 3. Co-design of an integrated bio-mechanical HVAC system at building-scale.  A series of experiments were undertaken to determine the performance parameters for architectural integration, including: the toxin removal capacity of various growing media and plant species; the impact of module morphology on contaminant concentration levels and air flow rates; and the rates of remediation by constituent components within plant leaves and the root rhizosphere. The conclusions from these experiments show that the building-integrated active modular phytoremediation system (AMPS) could have a significant impact in contributing to remediation strategies addressing poor IAQ in buildings and energy reduction through improved HVAC performance.