Algae are widely used from the food industry to the construction industry. Scientists as well as diggers gradually find more and more applications of these simple photosynthesizing organisms. One of them is the Indian architect Shneel Malik from the Barlett School of Architecture, devising a unique project that can get rid of water harmful chemicals. Her priority is an efficient and inexpensive system. She took algae and ceramic tiles to help.

Wall Profile

Indus filter is made of ceramic tiles with deeply embossed surface, which are coated with microalgae and hydrogels derived from seaweed.

Shneel found that as contaminated water passes through the tiles, microalgae absorb harmful substances. The result is pure water. Depending on the rate of water contamination, the process may need to be repeated several times. However, the result always occurs. Microalgae must be changed every few months.

What Did Drive the Architect to Make the Filter

During her travels across India, the architect saw workers working for the textile industry discharging large amounts of toxic waste, including lead, arsenic and cadmium, into the surface waters. This polluted water and soil, which was harmful to the surrounding environment and negatively affected human health.

This pollution occurs in more parts of India. Malik aims to reduce water pollution using low-cost technologies and at an efficient price. If she succeeds, her project will greatly benefit the Indian environment.

Using Algae

Algae is a small organism whose cluster looks unattractive; it may resemble slime or feces. Their number is estimated between 40,000 and 1 million species. Scientists are gradually finding algae usage in several kinds of industry.

There are several types of algae that are suitable as input material to produce steel-hard material. Natural dye to color biodegradable clothing is produced of algae as well.

Most algae are capable of photosynthesis, i.e. the conversion of carbon dioxide to oxygen. These types of algae are used in air purification projects such as bioreactors or roof cleaning panels.

Algae and cyanobacteria, after the Amazon rainforest, are the second half of the lungs of our planet.

Source:, credit: Andy Stagg