Neoplants, a Paris-based startup, is betting millions of dollars on the air we breathe. They have created Neo P1, a genetically engineered houseplant that the business believes can help tackle indoor air pollution.
P1 is a modified type of golden pothos, often known as devil’s ivy, which is one of the world’s most common and easy-going houseplants. Although its yellow-green colors are recognizable, P1’s DNA has been modified to improve its capacity to absorb volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from the air, such as formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, which are common in indoor environments.
These genetic changes also allow the plant to transform the VOCs it absorbs into molecules like sugar and CO2 that it can utilize to continue growing, which is especially important in the case of the P1.
P1 will be planted in soil enhanced with biochar (a popular gardening addition) in a container intended to maximize airflow, and sold with a pack of three Power Drops (bacteria to be added to the soil each month to assist the plant metabolize the VOCs it absorbs) after it has outgrown the agar.
Neoplants has received $20 million in venture capital to far from businesses such as True Ventures and Collaborative Fund. P1 will be available later this year for $179, or approximately £145—roughly ten times the price of a standard golden pothos plant, or similar to a low-cost Honeywell HEPA filter.
Neoplants’ proposition is an attractive one: neatly pairing something that looks nice in people’s homes and brings them joy (houseplants) with one of the biggest existential challenges facing humanity at large (slowly choking to death from pollutants).
Reference- Neoplants website, Globe PR Newswire, Interesting Engineering, National Geographic, Futurism, Wired