Narxoz University: Vegetative barriers can reduce air pollution by as much as 40%

March 07, 2023

International scientists discussed innovative “phytocapture” technology in Kazakhstan

The international conference ”Nature Based Solutions to Mine Industry Waste: From Research to Practice” was held in Almaty on the initiative of the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute, a part of Narxoz University, the best private university in Kazakhstan according to the 2022 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings. In 2007, with the support of the Kazakh businessman and philanthropist Bulat Utemuratov, Narxoz University began a transformation process, and has attracted international experts, upgraded the academic curricula and research capacity, and reformed its corporate governance.

Brendan Duprey, Director of the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute, presented the center’s latest development, “phytocapture”, a green barrier method which works by planting trees and shrubs at specific locations to capture toxic dust from industrial plants and transport. The type of vegetation and distance from the pollutant is determined by measuring air quality and using advanced computer modeling in order to prevent the maximum amount of particulate matter from entering the air. Scientists are now working on exploring the potential for broader application of the “phytocapture” technology around the world.

In 2022, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) recognized Brendan Duprey’s project as one of the best global practices. “Phytocapture” technology has already been tested at the Aksu gold mine in Kazakhstan under a commercial contract. Results showed that the technology will reduce the air pollution from one of the mine tailings by approximately 40%.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 99% of the world’s population breathes in air with levels of pollution that exceed acceptable standards. Small particulate matter contained in the air like dust, combustion products of fossil fuels, etc., penetrate human lungs, affecting the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The WHO estimates that 7 million people die each year from air pollution.

The Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute was established in 2019. It has been involved in the design of the new campus at Narxoz University, which is home to 30,000 newly planted trees and which uses sustainable materials and energy-saving lighting. Sustainability is part of Narxoz University’s curriculum and campus life.

The developments of the Sustainable Kazakhstan Research Institute at Narxoz University, including the “phytocapture” technology, are planned to be applied to both national and international companies in the future.


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