Selected as finalist of the prestigious Bio Art and Design Award, I collaborated with the Mycrosystems group at Technical University of Eindhoven on a joint project proposal for a 6 months residency.
Carbon Positive aims to demonstrate how microfluidics research and design thinking can be brought together to engineer sustainable solutions to global challenges.
Inspired by marine organisms that use biomineralisation pro- cesses at ambient temperature to sequester CO2 dissolved in marine water and transform it in a building block for their shells.
The experimental work presented in ‘Self-assembly of amorphous calcium carbonate microlens array’, published by Lee et al. in 2012 was instrumental. The team was able to self-assemble CaCO3 microlens spheres with uniform size, at ambient temperature, by reacting a specific liquid with CO2 present in the local environment. The reaction happens at the interface between liquid and air, at ambient temperature.
I asked a simple question: could these strategies be adapted to sequester CO2 from the urban environment and build useful materials?
Proof of Concept prototype
We designed an energy-efficient, self-propelled microfluidic device that would harness natural bio-mineralisation reactions demonstrated in the experimental work cited above.
The device would exploits capillary forces and gravity to power and run itself, without the need of external energy inputs.
Capturing environmental CO2 from the air, through an engineered precipitation process, it would bind the particles in a safe material form.
The resulting material is the same material of marine shells, calcium carbonate, but obtained in perfect spherical forms that can be used for other purposes.
Taking advantage of the micro-fluidic precision, we aimed to maximise the efficiency of the bio-chemical process for sustainable carbon sequestration applications, inspired by circular systems.