Artist Tomás Saraceno recently displayed a set of futuristic reflective orbs at the Grand Palais in Paris. Each floating Aerocene sculpture is entirely powered by hot air, requiring zero fossil fuels to stay afloat. The Argentine artist has been working on the project for the past year, fusing sculpture with sustainable design and new technology.
Saraceno’s Aerocene prototypes float amongst the Victorian iron and glass domed ceilings of the Grand Palais, an historic architectural gem. Made from thin layers of reflective silver foil and transparent plastic, the Aerocene orbs simultaneously reflect light and the intricate architecture of the Grand Palais’ ceilings.
The prototypes are meant to stay afloat using only air. During the day, air heated by the sun will keep the Aerocene orbs buoyant, and at night, infrared radiation from the Earth would keep interior air warm. Pressure around the orbs can be controlled by releasing the hot air in the orbs’ interiors, allowing the Grand Palais to switch up the altitude of the orbs each day.
Although the project is still in developing stages, Saraceno plans to fly a fleet of the orbs around the world, powered without the use of fuel, hydrocarbons, helium, solar panels or batteries. After the exhibition at the Grand Palais, the Aerocene orbs will head to Bolivia’s Uyuni salt lake for an expedition.