08 Nov 2010:
Creating ‘Living’ Buildings
With Materials That Pull CO2 from Air
A new field, known as “ethical synthetic biology,” aims to combine chemistry, architecture, and climate science to construct buildings out of materials that extract CO2 from the atmosphere and convert the carbon into structural material
. For example, scientists at the University of Greenwich are exploring the possibility of using “protocells” — essentially bubbles of oil in watery fluids that are highly sensitive to light or chemicals — that pull carbon from the atmosphere to create a coral-like skin that would protect buildings. Neil Spiller, an architect and head of Greenwich's School of Architecture & Construction, said such protocells could possibly be used to create a limestone-like material that would petrify the pilings now supporting many of Venice’s buildings, slowing the city’s slide into the sea. At the University of Southern Denmark, researchers have succeeded in capturing carbon dioxide in solution and converting it into carbon-containing materials.“We want to use ethical synthetic biology to create large-scale, real world applications for buildings,” said Spiller.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.