By Paulina Solis • February 22, 2018

Top 5 Algae-Powered Innovations for your home

TOP 5 ALGAE-POWERED INNOVATIONS

As the reality of climate change inches closer, the need to search for new and innovative ways to power our lifestyles continue.
While the idea of using living organisms as a source of power amd light and light may at first thought sound closer to something out of a sci-fi movie, algae as a source of power could be a real alternative that is both viable and ethically sound.
Algae continually and quickly grow via photosynthesis and have bioluminescence qualities [1]. As the fastest growing organic material on our planet [2], algae is being looked into as a creative and environmentally friendly substitute in the fields of construction and design.

Here are 5 exciting algae-powered innovations for the home that could become the new normal.

 1. Algae Furniture

The project “Living Things” encourages us to live in harmony with nature and not against it. Artist Jacob Douenias (US) and industrial designer Ethan Frier (US) created furniture that functions as its own light source, bringing nature into our built environments. This symbiotic furniture provides light and heat to the external environment while also providing its own light, heat and air supply so that the algae can continue to thrive [1] [3].

 Picture1.pngFigure 1 Photosynthetic lightbulbs by Mattress Factory [3]

2. The Algae Curtain 
How about producing your own biofuel at home? This has been made possible by Loop pH studio, who created the “Algae Curtin” installation. This living textile consists of small transparent tubes knotted together to create a curtain that can be suspended on any window. Living algae resides within the tubes of the curtain, absorbing sunlight during the day and creating biofuel through photosynthesis [4] [2]. This creation benefits from the capacity of algae to grow incredibly fast (10 times faster than trees!) and produce biofuel which can be harvested for use in machinery that accepts biofuel, or simply to heat your home sustainably [4] .

Picture2.pngFigure 2 Algae Curtain [2]  

3. LED lightbulb
 Algae has the capacity to create its own electrical current, and this discovery led designer Gyula Bodonyim to create the Algae powered LED lightbulb, which has the ability to power itself [4] [5]. As it grows, the algae emits enough oxygen to power the LED [4] [5]. Since the algae depend upon CO2 to prosper, another advantage is that the lightbulb cleans the air in its immediate surroundings by taking in ambient CO2 through an air outlet at its base [4].

 Picture3.png
Figure 3 Algae lightbulb [5]

4. Algae-powered photovoltaic panels 
A team of researchers and designers from Cambridge University focused on the development of bio-photovoltaics devices powered by algae. During photosynthesis, algae create an electric current that can be used to power photovoltaic panels, which can provide electricity [7] [4]. Currently, algae-powered cells are not as effective as silicon-based solar cells, but they are less expensive and require less resources [6]. With more research and development, we are likely to see these efficiency levels increase significantly. Algae as an alternate power source is attractive because it grows and divides naturally, requiring less energy investment and opening up the opportunity for decentralized large scale production [7].

                                                                   Picture4.png                                                                       Figure 6 Algae powered biophotvolaic panels[4]   

5. The algae room

 If you really want to go all in on the algae craze, why not follow Jonathan Hagos and create an entire algae room? “The Algae Room”, winner of the 2007 Dezeen x Design Association container competition reinvents our living environments by introducing algae into our home’s walls that enable domestic growth of fuel to power our homes continuously [8] [6].

Picture6.pngFigure 6 Algae Room [8] 

The closest of the above products to becoming a commercial reality are algae based solar panels. Currently testing their technology with distributors, The Swedish Algae Factory aims to build their first algae cultivation facility in 2019 and establish 100 factories globally by 2030[9].

By utilising natural and renewable materials like algae, the possibilities are endless when it comes to achieving energy efficiencies. As with so many sustainable alternatives, when harnessed correctly, nature provides the answer, and although not available to the market just yet, these exciting innovations are well on their way to entering our homes. Importantly, with increased and growing interest from a wider audience, a more sustainable future is on certainly the horizon. 

Certified Energy are experts in ESD consulting and are qualified to assess projects for their suitability under rating schemes including Green Star, ISCA, WELL and NATHERS 

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1.K. Vyas, "7 Algae-Powered Innovations for Sustainable Future Living," 06 12 2016. [Online]. Available: https://interestingengineering.com/7-algae-powered-innovations-for-sustainable-future-living . [Accessed 08 02 2018].
2.Loop-pH, "Algae Curtain," 10 2012. [Online]. Available: http://loop.ph/portfolio/algae-curtain/. [Accessed 08 02 2018].
3.Mattress Factory , "Living Things, Photosynthetic furniture," 15 03 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.livingthings.us. [Accessed 08 02 2018].
4.Inhabitat, "The Top 10 Most Innovative Algae-Powered Designs," 21 10 2014. [Online]. Available: https://inhabitat.com/the-top-10-most-innovative-algae-powered-designs/. [Accessed 08 02 2018].
5.T. Turner, "LIVING LIGHT BULBS," 31 05 208. [Online]. Available: http://www.yankodesign.com/208/05/31/living-light-bulbs/. [Accessed 08 02 2018].
6.Steph, "Algae Innovations: 8 Alternative Bio-Energy Concepts," [Online]. Available: http://www.momtastic.com/webecoist/2012/08/8/algae-innovations-alternative-bio-energy/. [Accessed 08 02 2018].
7.HOK, "Algae Powers Process Zero Concept Building," [Online]. Available: http://www.hok.com/thought-leadership/algae-powers-process-zero-concept-building/. [Accessed 08 02 2018].
8.studioJonandNina, "The Algae Room," 30 10 2007. [Online]. Available: http://jonathanhagos.com/installations/the-algae-room--tdw07/. [Accessed 08 02 2018].           9."This Swedish Start Up Found the Answer to More Efficient Solar Panels...In Algae?"[Online]. Available: https://thenextweb.com/eu/2017/09/13/swedish-startup-answer-more-efficient-solar-panels-algae/. [Accessed 22 02 2018].