Arborea: the start-up trying to save the world

[UK] An entrepreneur is hoping to clean up with microalgae, using the tiny organisms to tackle pollution and climate change.

The best entrepreneurs find a commonly experienced problem, solve it and make lots of money in the process. If Julian Melchiorri, chief executive of Arborea, is to achieve his ambition of becoming one, he’s going to have to solve a very big problem indeed: global warming.

The 30-year-old is thinking big, pinning his hopes on an innovative use of microalgae, among the planet’s smallest organisms. He has developed a “Bio Solar Leaf”, a solar panel-like structure into which millions of microalgae are inserted. These panels, or “bionic trees”, then perform a kind of supercharged photosynthesis, extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass, while playing a role in creating useful chemicals such as omega 3.

“We want to create fields of bionic…

Photo: Julian Melchiorri has shown the potential of his microalgae with an installation at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in the form of a “bionic chandelier”

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