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Eco-pod Armada

A fleet of aquatic phytoremediation interactive mobile pods has just been launched onto the East river. Each pod was built of a remote-controlled speed boat, wooden rods, empty plastic bottles, a fishing net, hydroponic plants and some duct tape (ok, a glue gun was somewhat involved as well). The pods are intended to provide an example for a DIY water remediation device that can be easily assembled and released into the polluted waters that surround us. They employ Phytoremediation – a process that uses plants to clean up pollution in land and water. Plant roots absorb toxins and pollutants and metabolize them into nutrients.

The pod operators will used remotes to navigate the pod along the water’s edge, as they travels south with the currents. The boat performed as the pod’s motor, carrying around the hydroponic plants supported by the wood-net-duct tape structure. The plants were specifically selected to perform phytoremediation in the river waters. Plants such as Arabidopsis halleri and Arabidopsis thaliana are naturally equipped with extreme metal tolerance. In fact, the feed on heavy metals found in the ground or water that they grow in. What they do is also called Rhizofiltration – when water is filtered through the root mass and the roots absorb the toxins from the water.

Rhizofiltration is a long process, but the little fleet of pods can be launched repeatedly (preferably on the weekends) until it cleans the water, or better yet – gets the message across. Launching and operating the pods is a recreational public activity – anyone can build a DIY pod, and launch it in the nearest body of water.

Funded by Boston, MA (November 2009)