Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Bio Wall

PostedJuly 26, 2019

Lede: Most of us spend the large majority of our time indoors, where the air is often more polluted than outdoors. Now one engineer wants to incorporate some nature into the workings of our homes.

Randy Atkins: Air pollution in our houses comes from many sources – like paints, cleaners, and cooking. So Bill Hutzel, a Purdue University engineering technology professor, is displaying attractive plants within a glass enclosed home ventilation system. It’s not just to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen.

Bill Hutzel: Photosynthesis is one means of improving air, but we’re actively pulling air across the root structures of plants.

Randy Atkins: The roots are planted in a porous mixture of materials that supply nutrients and water, while grabbing pollutants as air flows through. The plants actually use those contaminants to grow. It’s all controlled by a computer.

Bill Hutzel: You’ve got to optimize the lighting schedule, the watering schedule, and the amount of airflow all based on the season and the type of plant that you have to maintain robust plant growth.

Randy Atkins: Which has a side benefit of looking beautiful. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

Anchor Tag: The system is still being fine-tuned, but could be available for home use in a couple of years.