The Algae Façade project integrates façade and building technology research (performance, materiality, and feasibility) with embedded systems (sensors, actuators, and microcontrollers). It deploys a double-skin building façade as a harvesting surface for algae growth for subsequent conversion into biofuel or as a simple carbon-footprint offset by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The algae façade functions as an adaptive building skin that optimizes sun exposure for algae panels and reduces solar gains in the inner skin of the double façade.
Student Researchers: Samantha Bard, Mary Lopreiato, and Libertad McLellan, NJIT’16
Instructor: Andrzej Zarzycki, NJIT
There are a number of objectives that this design needed to achieve. In addition to tracking sun location and providing shading, it also had to monitor the growth of biological agents (algae). This meant aerating water inside the algae panels and collecting temperature data throughout the façade assembly, while allowing for various functionality overrides to maintain optimal building skin performance.
This sophisticated and complex behavior required comprehensive design and problem-solving thinking with research into several disciplines. It involved understanding of (1) biological processes behind algae growth, including species selection; (2) embedded electronic systems using microcontrollers with actuators and distributed sensors continuously monitoring building performance; and (3) construction assemblies with research into high-performance buildings
Students presented their work during annual Dana Knox Student Research Showcase 2015 and were voted for the Research Award, video below time 1:07. Students presenting their work at the research showcase