Researchers at the University of Greenwich in the UK are developing a carbon negative building material that would not only help fight climate change but protect the structures it is built upon. The material is made from protocells — super simple cells that have only the basic elements of life, yet are able to grow and multiply — that will capture carbon in their membranes and grow over time to create a hard, coral-like armor around or under buildings.
Though it seems the research team is a long way off from a final product, they are definitely on to something interesting. These cells could even be placed underneath structures to harden the support system of buildings in cities like Venice. “‘We want to use protocell bubbles to fix carbon or precipitate skin that we can then develop into a coral-like architecture, which could petrify the piles that support Venice to spread the structural weight-load of the city,” Professor Spiller said. The protocells would basically be building an artificial stone reef below the buildings.