Technology firm Hypergiant Industries announced on Tuesday a new bioreactor, known as Eos, that harnesses a unique form of life to combat climate change.

The machines – three feet long on all sides and seven feet tall – use algae to process carbon dioxide from the air. By the Austin, Texas, firm's estimates, the machines are capable of sequestering as much carbon dioxide as an acre of trees -- roughly two tons.

“We’ve been thinking about climate change solutions in only a very narrow scope,” CEO Ben Lamm told Inverse. “Trees are part of the solution but there are so many other biological solutions that are useful. Algae is much more effective than trees at reducing carbon in the atmosphere, and can be used to create carbon negative fuels, plastics, textiles, food, fertilizer and much more.”

The Eos machines work by monitoring the key factors that help algae grow: carbon dioxide, light and water. By doing this, they are able to maximize the amount of gas algae can sequester.

“With enough Eos devices, we could make whole cities carbon-neutral or even negative, and at a rate that is so much faster than that of trees,” Lamm said. That’s the dream: breathable, livable cities for everyone and right now.”

Lamm also suggested the biomass produced by algae when it processes carbon dioxide could be used for numerous products and applications, including cosmetics and oils. The prototype model with which Hypergiant currently is working is small enough to be attached to a standard office building’s air conditioning unit.

The company’s next step is to distribute blueprints for the machines to hobbyists, whom they hope will be able to develop smaller units fit for homes. They were expected to announce marketing plans next year.

Boy swimming in algae
A boy swims in the algae-filled coastline of Qingdao, Shandong province in China in July. Reuters