The idea of using building windows as part of a sustainability exercise is not new. In 2020 I told you about AuREUS, a concept based on windows made from food waste and capable of converting light into electricity.
The Mexican startup Greenfluidics took a step forward. Its bio windows (colored green due to the biomass enclosed within them) are operational and truly dynamic. What are they doing? They take a stream of carbon dioxide, captured by what would otherwise be a source of emissions, and pass it through water impregnated with selected strains of seaweed. During the journey a real photosynthesis takes place, with the algae increasing their mass and generating oxygen. For every kilo of algae inside these bio windows, two kilos of CO2 will be captured. Not bad.
Power of nanotechnology
The idea is not bad, but like all things it can be improved. And this is where nanotechnology comes in. Miguel Mayorga, CEO of Greenfluidics, described in an interview how their bio windows have been enhanced.
The system is double-sided: on the one hand, the algae. On the other hand, water mixed with (recyclable) carbon nanoparticles which increase the thermal conductivity of the liquid. This translates into two possibilities: the heat can be captured and transformed into energy with a thermoelectric generator, or the algae can be harvested and transformed into biofuel for the building systems.
Now all that remains is to give them a more captivating color (it will surprise you, but Greenfluidics was founded in 2018 and is working hard to give this very useful invention a “marketable” aesthetic as well.
But I also have other questions
You will forgive me, but I would like to anticipate the requests of the readers, always stimulated with many inventions, but disappointed by the fact that only a small part of them finally finds a way to be applied.
For this I express some reservations here: ok, I trust an old feasibility study already published in a scientific journal (here it is, for those who have time to read it), but I still have some questions left.
How long will these bio windows last? How often should they be cleaned, and how? Could algae clog pipes and heating systems? The green light that filters through gives you a headache (okay, they're working on that). Do they only work in winter? What happens in the summer? What will be the actual energy and economic savings of such a solution?
Bio windows to the future
In summary: CO2 capture is one of the topics of the day, ok. But it still does not appear in the balance sheet of a construction company. You will have to get out of these muffled test environments quickly (and well), and from these renderings with Photoshop to really make a difference.
I fear that this technology will end up falling into the “too complex, too expensive” category, but I will be happy to be wrong and still wish Greenfluidics very well. Que viva Mexico!