Amsterdam, as many other cities, suffers from the high particulate concentrations caused by traffic and other sources, which has a negative impact on the air quality and the health of citizens. High concentration of particulates is especially found near highways and large construction sites. Reducing environmental issues like air pollution improve Amsterdam as an economic climate and its standing amongst other attractive economic hotspots in Europe and beyond. It is crucial to contribute sustainable solutions to improve the air quality and the quality of life.
The green Junkie Project
The “Green Junkie” project tested whether uniquely developed plants called Green Junkie, a special bred of the honeysuckle, could absorb more particulates with hairier and more scaled leaves if placed along busy roads. The corporation MyEarth had bred this plant variety.
Plants have the ability to decrease airborne particulate pollution, especially with dense, longer hairy and scaled leaves. Based on a literature review on urban vegetation and particulate air pollution, it hypothesized that both the plant species and the spatial design would alleviate air pollution.
First, the impact of the “Green Junkie” plant was analyzed in a controlled situation, a wind tunnel. Then, it was tested whether this effect could be found in a living lab condition in Amsterdam.
The expected effects of the plant are representative for a concrete situation with specific spatial design, which will define the impact in practice. It has to be noted that the location of the Green Junkie influences the effects significantly as parameters such as airflow, traffic, weather conditions and density of the vegetation play a role.
Meeting the requirements of a Stimulus Projects* – an innovative solution to an urban challenge in Amsterdam, with upscaling potential and involvement of stakeholders – the project was taken on to research the possibilities to reduce particulate concentration with plant-powered air cleaning.
The results of the study showed that the Green Junkie only reduced the amount of soot air pollution by appr. 1.5%. Therefore, the plant is not considered effective in significantly removing soot from traffic-related sources and thereby does not sufficiently contribute to improving the air quality along roads intensively used by car traffic.
With the outcomes of the report AMS Institute sees no justification for follow-up research and will for the time being – not invest in plant-powered air cleaning.
*This project is an AMS Stimulus Project. The aim of Stimulus Projects is to give to new and existing AMS partners support to innovative research that has a strong upscaling potential. The projects should realize short-term research output, which act as a catalyst of a new solution direction, concept or approach.