What does it mean to spatialize and inhabit infrastructure? The Algaevator investigates the potential of biotechnology utilities to create transparent and lightweight architectural surfaces, such as roof membranes.
An algae photobioreactor is an artificial environment used to increase the production of algae through the introduction of slow movement, carbon dioxide, and increased access to sunlight. The algae is then used for various consumer products and alternative fuels.Research shows that gravity-based photobioreactors have increased yields as they offer a milder form of movement and carbon dioxide introduction.
Typically, such devices are hidden in agricultural and industrial structures. The Algaevator creates a weather-tight roofing system that can add both spatial value and agriculturally productivity to our everyday environment. Not only does the funnel shape optimize proper sun exposure for algae propagation, but it is able to harvest rainwater while dividing the otherwise open cube of the pavilion, providing spatial experience and implied visitor circulation.
The Algaevator features three separate spirals that are intercoiled between a heat-fused, water-tight, layered membrane. The first spiral introduces carbon dioxide from the environment into the bottom of the Algaevator via a low-energy pump. Through a specially-designed valve, carbon dioxide from spiral 1 enters the second spiral, an algae-filled coil. Bubbles gently transport algae to the top while providing carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Once at the top of the Algaevator, the algae can off-gas oxygen into the environment. It then travels back down, through this final spiral, to the bottom of the Algaevator for further cycling through the system.
The Algaevator operated successfully through the three-month deployment in Cambridge, MA, USA.