AlgaeComb Skyscraper

By:  | April - 20 - 2020

Honorable Mention
2020 Skyscraper Competition

Ju Hwan Lee, Jin Ah Kim, Jong Min Choi
South Korea

Among all environmental issues, air pollution is the most pressing and complex environmental problem nowadays. As WHO announced, most of the world’s population lives in an inappropriate air condition. But we concern air quality which is mainly related to inland regions despite water covers about 70% of the planet’s surface.

The ocean is not immune to these deep environmental issues. Lots of smoke from the land, ships going between continents, docking facilities, and HVAC systems in ships still use fossil fuels and emit smoke. Especially, the decrepit engine produces a large number of pollutants due to the use of low-quality fuel and its incomplete combustion. This contaminated air moves around the ocean and has already affected water quality, acidity and the marine ecosystem.

Based on this current situation, we suggest an eco-friendly research center, ALGAECOMB which floats around the contaminated regions for environmental studies with reducing actual marine pollutants by using both biological and architectural methods.

ALGAECOMB’s system deals with not only chemical contamination but also particulates. It uses 3 types of purification methods which are using static electricity, photosynthesis, and aquatic plant treatment. Each method is applied to different types of pollutants.

First, static electricity (positively or negatively charged surface formed by rubbing different materials of Photobioreactor package) attract polarized particulates made out of NOx, SOx. Accordingly, fine suspended particles are adsorbed onto the tube surface until rain washes it away. Second, the photosynthesis of plants naturally changes carbon dioxide into oxygen. CO2 is well known as the primary cause of the greenhouse effect. The last treatment uses an aquatic plant to decrease dissolved CO2 gas and organic contaminant (N, P) from the water.

ALGAECOMB uses specific species of microalgae as a primary material. Microalgae is unicellular species typically found in the marine system. It performs photosynthesis and produces approximately half of the atmospheric oxygen by consuming CO2. Among them, Pyrocystis fusiformis has a special feature that makes it different from the other microalgae. It is bioluminescent algae which chemically produces a flash of blue-greenish light when disturbed. It is sensitive to the toxicity of the air, so it can be used for the estimation of contamination by its intensity of light. ALGAECOMB indicates air cleanliness and provides a channel of communication between humans and nature during dark night.

The main structure of the building is not nailed to the earth. It is a floating building generated by its bottom facility. The buoyant kit has a rising force created by air. It stands vertically by the force of gravity of the counterweight. This floating structure is made out of flexible material to absorb lateral forces and allow natural movement. In order to secure serviceability, squirting system and gyroscope devices are applied in both the upper and lower parts of the building.

Because ALGAECOMB is a complex of the living organisms, it is continuously affected by its growing environment. Appropriate temperature (18~24 ℃), CO2, light sources and seawater with proper nutrition are required for cultivation. The envelope of ALGAECOMB consists of multiple units that contain microalgae and supply the required environment via MEP components. Basically microalgae unit system is suspended by flexible sub-structure, and it moves gently over residential / lab areas. It induces generating static electricity and bioluminescent light by movement.

In terms of energy, the microalgae perform as the main energy source as well. As microalgae are spotlighted renewable & eco-friendly material, the biomass from the microalgae can be reproduced into different types of energy sources; biogas, biodiesel, electricity through various energy manufacturing technologies. Bio-generator supplies bioenergy to the structure as well as a function of environmental purification.

ALGAECOMB consists of 4 units of laboratory and accommodation facilities.

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