As we become more aware of the damage done by industrial agriculture to the environment, innovators across the world are looking for ways to reduce the impact of producing food while simultaneously packing a bigger nutritional punch with the food we do produce. This is manifesting in bug-proteins, lab-grown meat, meatless burgers, and an endless stream of food waste solutions from smart fridges to zero-waste cocktails.
All of this is aimed at cutting down the number of calories we throw away (which is estimated to be about 30 percent of all the food grown on the planet) not just to curb to waste, but to curb the planet's rapidly increasing temperatures, as agriculture accounts for up to 25 percent of total global C02 emissions.
With that in mind, innovators at Copenhagen-based future-living lab SPACE10 created the Algae Dome, a 13-foot-tall urban-dwelling structure that pumps out oxygen and produces food in a closed-loop system. Powered by solar energy, the Algae Dome is a sustainable and hyper-local food system that can be assembled almost anywhere with minimal impact on the environment.
Designed by architects Aleksander Wadas, Rafal Wroblewski and Anna Stempniewicz, and bioengineer Keenan Pinto, the Algae Dome grows micro-algae, which is celebrated as a future “superfood" said to contain twice as much protein as meat, more beta carotene than carrots, and more iron than spinach. Micro-algae are also among the world’s fastest-growing organisms and can be grown with sunshine and water almost anywhere.
In other words, it's a highly sustainable source of food that has little impact on the environment. At the same time, the algae absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen in the process.
“In the future, different species of micro-algae could be used as a form of nutrient-rich food, as a replacement for soy protein in animal feed, in the development of biofuels, as a way to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and as a method of treating industrial wastewater,” the SPACE10 team said. “In other words, micro-algae could help combat malnutrition, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, help stop the destruction of the rainforest, improve air quality, and reduce pollution. Little wonder that micro-algae has been dubbed the future’s sustainable super crop.”
The design of the Algae Dome incorporates over 1000 feet of coiled tubing through which the algae flow. Presented for the first time at the CHART art fair in Copenhagen last week, the Dome produced 118 gallons of edible algae over the fair's four-day period, proving its potential as a major producer of our future food.