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A cloak of algae

We all talk about green buildings, but what if they were actually green? And what if you could tuck into the products of that very building? Or use it as fuel?

A living skin

ecoLogicStudio, a London architectural and design firm created a 430-square-foot gazebo called the Urban Algae Folly at Expo 2015. The Folly produces oxygen and absorbs considerable amounts of carbon dioxide with algae-filled plastic serving as a living “skin”.

Urban Algae Folly. Image copyright ecoLogicStudio

The Folly is made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, a transparent plastic building material. Its hollow interior is filled with water and spirulina, a type of algae often used as a dietary supplement. The growth of the algae depends on sunlight and temperature.

Algae helps us breathe

Did you know that algae and other marine plants make 70% of the world’s oxygen? The folly produces about 4.4 pounds of oxygen per day and can also suck about 8.8 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air per day. Compared with a tree which absorbs only about .132 pounds.

Algae has also been used in a number of other recent urban innovations. French biochemist Pierre Calleja created a prototype for a “smog-eating” street lamp, which uses bioluminescent microalgae to light streets while absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.

Wonder cures

Spirulina, a dietary substance extracted from algae, was once the momentary wonder food. Spirulina can be taken in tablet form but I found out that you too could be the owner of the X-System – a tank system which produces algae so you can make some scrumptious, yumptious algae dishes.

Spirulina “soup”

Now I have not tried either the tablets or fresh Spirulina, but I have to say I’m not really tempted… As you will see from the photo it does not look that appealing. Which brings me on to a time when I was tempted to buy a potion from one of the ubiquitous Chinese Herbal medicine shops. I don’t remember what was in the potion, and it was not cheap, but I diligently boiled them up… Let’s say my Scottish taste buds went “yeugh” and that was the end of that particular experience.