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‘Liquid tree’ installation absorbs CO2 emissions in Belgrade

Serbia is among the nations with the very worst air quality on the planet. A novel solution to sequestering GHGs in Belgrade’s most concentrated urban area, is the ‘Liquid 3’. 

If humanity has any chance of remaining under a 1.5C temperature rise, atmospheric greenhouse gases must decline by 43% before 2030 and 60% by 2035 – reveals the latest IPCC report. 

As well as nationwide transitions away from fossil fuels, carbon removal through natural sequestration and nascent technology has now been described as essential to stay within any theoretical pathways. 

Speaking on the latter variety of project, a one-of-a-kind installation is helping to combat urban pollution in Belgrade, Serbia. Dubbed the ‘Liquid 3,’ this mesmerising device essentially operates like a tree. 

Passers-by are visibly intrigued by the bioreactor and bubbling green liquid, which uses microalgae to bind carbon dioxide from the air before converting it to pure oxygen through photosynthesis.

Climate experts estimate that such microalgae is some 10 to 50 times more effective at locking away CO2 than regular trees. Impressive, eh? 

That’s not to say that its founder Dr. Ivan Spasojevic is keen to uproot natural sequesters in Belgrade in favour of Liquid 3 units every 100 yards. On the contrary, the technology has been developed to fill urban pockets where there is no space for planting trees. 

Of the sparse population that remains standing within the region, many are at threat of wilting in the foreseeable future due to extreme levels of pollution – a problem which doesn’t affect the Liquid 3. 

‘The system does not require special maintenance… it is enough to remove the biomass created by dividing algae, which can be used as an excellent fertilizer, in a month and a half, pour new water and minerals, and the algae continue to grow indefinitely,’ explains Spasojevic.

Where the first unit is currently situated, the surrounding area of Belgrade is said to have 4.9 times the maximum GHG value allotted by the WHO to ensure public safety.

Activists state that pollution can even be smelt and tasted during the summer, while a recent report placed Serbia 1st as the European country with the deadliest air quality. 

Clearly born out of necessity within Serbia, the Liquid 3 is illustrative of a global issue being exacerbated over time. Cities are reportedly the source of as much as 75% of the world’s total CO2 emissions, and pollution reportedly kills three times many people as HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria combined each year. 

Hopefully, this is just the beginning of climate focused urban development. Lord knows we need a serious level of innovation, and fast.