Assessing the Environmental Performance of a New Biotechnological Sensor for Air Quality Based on Devitalised Moss Clone


  • Carolina Alfonsín University of Santiago de Compostela
  • Paula Pérez-López University of Santiago de Compostela
  • Ana Isabel Rey-Asensio BioVia Consultor Ambiental
  • Carlos Carballeira University of Santiago de Compostela
  • Gumersindo Feijoo University of Santiago de Compostela
  • Maria Teresa Moreira University of Santiago de Compostela



air quality, environmental assessment, life cycle assessment (LCA), moss clone, photobioreactor


In recent years, mosses have been suggested as feasible biomonitors for the control of air quality. The most suitable type of biosensor consists of moss transplants that can be either harvested from unpolluted natural habitats or cultivated in photobioreactors. The production and devitalisation of moss was assessed with the aim of identifying the stages of the process with potential environmental impacts. The use of energy, especially associated with refrigeration in the cultivation stage, was the main factor contributing to the environmental impacts considered, ranging from 85% of the impact in marine eutrophication up to 95% for the rest of categories. Results were compared with previous studies dealing with algae production in photobioreactors, in which the electricity use for lighting also constituted a major hotspot. Scenarios based on reduced energy demand, and implementing alternative sources were proposed and showed better environmental profiles than the baseline scenario. Particularly, the use of photovoltaic energy could reduce the impacts by 50% in the analysed categories, except for terrestrial ecotoxicity, with significantly lower improvement ratios if photovoltaic energy was partially combined with conventional energy. The option of optimising the refrigeration system also provided significant reductions, ranking as the best alternative when terrestrial ecotoxicity was assessed.