Experiment #001

Idea #004 proposes that we use crushed leaves to filter CO2 from car exhausts.

This is just a proposed experiment. I have not run it myself.

Well, we need to know if crushed leaves actually retain their property of consuming CO2 after the plant has died. This is perhaps a simple question for a biologist to answer, but it is not so for me.

Imagine a large glass cylinder, that is actually made of three parts. A bottom glass cylinder with bottom, a middle cylinder without bottom or top, and a top cylinder that has a top.

In the bottom cylinder you place a large candle, that you will light right before the experiment starts.

In the middle you place a holed plate, like a circular disk with though holes, and a filter paper on top. You sandwitch between two layers like this your crushed leaves. I imagine that it is best to crush them right after you harvested them from the wild. Try not to look funny while you chop leaves of a tree for no apparent reason.

You attach to the top of the cylinder a CO2 sensor. Now that I think about it, it might be better to place the ARDUINO itself, with a battery, inside the top container too, registering data. Getting wires out of a glass cylinder would not be very practical. Pardon me the misleading image, it was done before I realized this.

So, how does the experiment go?

First, you do this experiment with the same setup, but without the middle section. Just light the candle and mount the bottom and top section without letting air out. Just a glass container, a burning candle and a sensor. Light the candle, wait for the oxygen to get consumed, the flame to extinguish. Wait a little longer to get the right part of the plot above, and finish.

In the second part, you light the candle, mount the cylinders on top of each other, with the middle section, without letting air out. You wait. As the candle consume the air, the concetration of CO2 rises, but the candle proceeds to consume all oxygen, and eventually turn off. By the time this happens, you wait a little while longer, and finish the experiment. The idea is that now the leaves will have consumed some of the CO2 and you will get the bottom curve.

So what does it tells you, are the curves exactly the same? Are crushed leaves capable of consuming CO2?

Now, you can run this experiment again many times, changing how old these leaves are. Can you use leaves that were collected a week ago to filter CO2? That would be neat because there would not be the hassle of getting fresh leaves.

And that is it, I hope you had a great time!

Don't forget to leave a note below with your conclusions 😁

Diego Alves

BANNER IMAGE CREDITS: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (GSFC), M. Wong (UC Berkeley), and G. Orton (JPL-Caltech)

Want to know more about this image? Follow this external link.