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This 'liquid tree' in Belgrade is fighting back against air pollution

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By Euronews  with EBU
The first urban photo-bioreactor in Serbia, "LIQUID 3", has been placed in front of the Municipality of Stari Grad in Makedonska Street in Belgrade.
The first urban photo-bioreactor in Serbia, "LIQUID 3", has been placed in front of the Municipality of Stari Grad in Makedonska Street in Belgrade.   -   Copyright  EBU

Belgrade has an innovative tool in the fight against dirty air - this so-called "liquid tree".

It's Serbia's first urban photo-bioreactor, a solution for tackling greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

It contains six hundred litres of water and uses microalgae to bind carbon dioxide and produce pure oxygen through photosynthesis.

“The microalgae replaces two, 10-year-old trees or 200 square metres of lawn," said Dr Ivan Spasojevic, one of the authors of the project from the Institute for Multidisciplinary Research at the University of Belgrade.

"The system is the same because both trees and grass perform photosynthesis and bind carbon dioxide.

"The advantage of microalgae is that they are 10 to 50 times more efficient than trees.

"Our goal is not to replace forests but to use this system to fill those urban pockets where there is no space for planting trees."

Belgrade is the fourth most polluted city in Serbia, due to the two large coal power plants nearby.

The two plants are among the top 10 dirtiest plants in Europe, according to the European NGO Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

In 2019, Serbia ranked as Europe's fifth most polluted country with an average PM 2.5 in air pollution, according to the IQAir's World Air Quality Report.

Another report in December 2019 also put the country under increased scrutiny, as scientists claimed Serbia had Europe's worst per capita record for pollution-related deaths: 175 per 100,000 people.

Activists have also claimed that pollution in Serbia and in other parts of the Balkan peninsula is so bad that it can be seen, smelt and even tasted, especially during autumn and winter.