Public Lab Research note

This is an attempt to replicate an activity.

Building a plant-based air purifier kit at Barnraising

by warren with liz , zengirl2 | | 156 views | 7 comments |

Read more:

This is an attempt to follow the latest instructions for this kit:

We followed some printed instructions via @liz to assemble this at a recent Barnraising event, and it went really well! We did have an issue with the pump voltage but are pretty sure we can find a locally bought pump that will work. We saw one at a nearby restaurant fishtank, in fact πŸ˜„

image description

We found a plant that was sold in water already, which saved time, although we took it slow so the water would have time to soak into the gravelly material. Would it have worked to just

Here we are mixing and washing the gravelly stuff; we did it in a reusable plastic shopping bag, which we actually imagine might make for a good insert itself:

image description

image description

image description

image description

Here's the fabric insert. Some people were curious what other porous synthetic materials could be used here, for an even more DIY version. I was reminded of and thinking of textile arts a lot!

image description

We weren't sure how to ensure that the hose stayed in the "J" shape shown in the instructions, and tried making a loop so that it held that shape while we put in gravel.

image description

Here we're packing the gravelly stuff around the plant while trying to ensure the hose position above the eventual water level:

image description

Actually putting the hose on the pump was a little harder than we'd thought!

image description

But ultimately, besides the pump voltage issue, everything went pretty smoothly.

Ideas we had:

1. what about adding a bubble stone (, also see image below) to help control where the hose remains? It could be held in place a little more easily, and might be less likely to be clogged

2. we worried about the hose going underwater. Is it a big problem, or is that a holdover from when the pump would run in reverse? Like, is it a problem if it bubbles through the water before entering the root area? Someone said it could create carbonic acid, but doing this is pretty normal in a fishtank with plants, so... we weren't sure.

That's it - I know @liz has a lot more notes, but just getting this up for starters!

image descriptionimage description


@nshapiro @zengirl2 πŸ˜ƒ !

@warren has marked @zengirl2 as a co-author.

@warren has marked @liz as a co-author.

Air stone picture i forgot to upload!


This is a great recap, thanks! Looking forward to hearing next from the artist named "So" who adopted the plant to live in Guangzhou. One additional pregame point i can share is that @shanlter and I found a plant to buy at a shop a block away that already had roots growing in water in a clear jar. It was like getting a jump start on the build!

Nice project. Is there an established standard to quantify CO2 or VOC in air flowing into pump? I was thinking of either Arduino or Adafruit CO2/VOC sensor but not sure which is best for robust and consistent sensitivity.

To improve on design I would use more than one air line per system, so like real roots, should not be too centralized. I would wrap line and uniformly punch needle holes so all parts of substrate/roots get air exposure, if that makes any difference in sequestering.


Is this a question? Click here to post it to the Questions page.

Login to comment.

Public Lab is open for anyone and will always be free. By signing up you'll join a diverse group of community researchers and tap into a lot of grassroots expertise.

Sign up