Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Biowall’s Impact on Indoor Air Quality and Energy

EPA Grant Number: SU835505
Title: Biowall’s Impact on Indoor Air Quality and Energy
Investigators: Hutzel, William J , Dana, Michael N , Qu, Ming
Institution: Purdue University - Main Campus
EPA Project Officer: Levinson, Barbara
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2013) Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability



Energy efficient buildings typically have high levels of insulation and seal the leakage paths for outside air infiltration.  Unfortunately this can lead to poor indoor air quality as an unintended side effect.  Innovations are needed to maintain optimal levels of human comfort and productivity in highly efficient buildings.  The Biowall is a new concept for maintaining high levels of indoor air quality and has the potential to reduce HVAC energy use by reducing outside air requirements for buildings.  The device consists of a living plant wall that is integrated into the HVAC system of a building.  This technology leverages the natural ability of plants to reduce CO2 and remove VOC’s. 


A living plant wall will be designed and grown hydroponically in a controlled laboratory environment.  The plant wall will be integrated with an HVAC system so that precise measurements of air temperature, air humidity, air quality, and component-level energy consumption can be made.  Various lighting levels, plant varieties, and watering strategies will be evaluated to optimize the Biowall’s performance.

Expected Results:

This project will collect data on air quality and energy consumption for a variety of Biowall configurations in a controlled laboratory environment.  This data will be evaluated for statistical significance and used to develop and validate an energy/IAQ model of the Biowall.  A successful Phase I effort will lead to a Phase II P3 project to deploy an improved Biowall in a demonstration home.

Supplemental Keywords:

plant cultivation, phytoremediation, carbon activated filter;