Gallery: High-Flying Algae Airships are Self-Sufficient Airborne Cities


Architect Vincent Callebaut recently unveiled a blue-sky plan for a high-flying fleet of self-sufficient aircraft that are one part zeppelin cities and one part hydrogen-generating floating farms. Dubbed Hydrogenase, the algae-producing airborne cities are 100% emission-free and are capable of generating hydrogen gas without consuming land needed for crops or forests.

Here at Inhabitat we’ve seen our fair share of future-forward airships, but we’ve never seen one that doubles as a hydrogen-producing flying farm! Designed for the South China Sea near Shanghai, Callebaut’s Hydrogenase airships are completely self-sufficient and contain specialized breeds of seaweed that soak up sunlight and CO2 to generate hydrogen.

According to the architects, “the output obtained by a farm with micro-seaweed would be superior to those made currently with farming means to produce biodiesel or bioethanol. This could be estimated at 1000 litres of hydrogen for 330 grams of chlorophyll per day whereas for example colza produces roughly only 1000 litres of oil per hectare . . . a hectare of seaweed could thus produce organically 120 times more biofuels than a hectare of colza, soya or sunflower.

In addition to providing a clean source of renewable energy, Hydrogenase airships offer an eco-friendly means of transportation. Although certainly slower that hopping on a jet, the hybrid blimps are nearly silent and require very little infrastructure to take off and land. The architects also suggest that that the airships could provide disaster relief to remote areas and could be deployed as flying hospitals and aid centers.

Each Hydrogenase airship is covered with flexible photovoltaic cells and features a smoothly sculpted form studded with 20 wind turbines. The interior spaces feature room for housing, offices, scientific laboratories, and entertainment, and a series of bioremediating vegetable gardens provide a source of food while recycling waste.

Hydrogenase is certainly a far-off futuristic concept, but it does harness a set of technologies that are being developed today — perhaps one day in the future we’ll see fantastic ideas such as this take flight.

+ Vincent Callebaut


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1 Comment

  1. alexjameslowe May 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I love these wild far-out ideas!

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