Buildings are not unlike a human body. They have bones and skin; they breathe. Electrified, they consume energy, regulate temperature and generate waste. Buildings are organisms albeit inanimate ones.
But what if buildings walls, roofs, floors, windows were actually alive grown, maintained and healed by living materials? Imagine architects using genetic tools that encode the architecture of a building right into the DNA of organisms, which then grow buildings that self-repair, interact with their inhabitants and adapt to the environment.
Living architecture is moving from the realm of science fiction into the laboratory as interdisciplinary teams of researchers turn living cells into microscopic factories. At the University of Colorado Boulder, I lead theLiving Materials Laboratory. Together with collaborators in biochemistry, microbiology, materials science and structural engineering, we usesynthetic biologytoolkits to engineer bacteria to create useful minerals and polymers and form them into living building blocks that could, one day, bring buildings to life.
In one study published in Scientific Reports, my colleagues and Igenetically programmed E. coli to create limestone particleswith different shapes, sizes, stiffnesses and toughness. In another study, we showed thatE. coli can be genetically programmed to produce styrene the chemical used to make polystyrene foam, commonly known as Styrofoam.
In our most recent work, published in Matter, we used photosynthetic cyanobacteriato help us grow a structural building material and we kept it alive. Similar to algae, cyanobacteria are green microorganisms found throughout the environment but best known for growing on the walls in your fish tank. Instead of emitting CO2, cyanobacteria use CO2 and sunlight to grow and, in the right conditions, create a biocement, which we used to help us bind sand particles together to make a living brick.
By keeping the cyanobacteria alive, we were able to manufacture building materials exponentially. We took one living brick, split it in half and grew two full bricks from the halves. The two full bricks grew into four, and four grew into eight. Instead of creating one brick at a time, we harnessed the exponential growth of bacteria to grow many bricks at once demonstrating a brand new method of manufacturing materials.
Researchers have only scratched the surface of the potential of engineered living materials. Other organisms could impart other living functions to material building blocks. For example, different bacteria could produce materials that heal themselves, sense and respond to external stimuli like pressure and temperature, or even light up. If nature can do it, living materials can be engineered to do it, too.
It also take less energy to produce living buildings than standard ones. Making and transporting todays building materials uses a lot of energy and emits a lot of CO2. For example, limestone is burned to make cement for concrete. Metals and sand are mined and melted to make steel and glass. The manufacture, transport and assembly ofbuilding materials account for 11% of global CO2 emissions.Cement production alone accounts for 8%. In contrast, some living materials, like our cyanobacteria bricks, could actually sequester CO2.
Teams of researchers from around the world are demonstrating the power and potential of engineered living materials at many scales, includingelectrically conductive biofilms,single-cell living catalystsfor polymerization reactions andliving photovoltaics. Researchers have madeliving masks that sense and communicate exposure to toxic chemicals. Researchers are also trying togrow and assemble bulk materialsfrom a genetically programmed single cell.
While single cells are often smaller than a micron in size one thousandth of a millimeter advances in biotechnology and 3D printing enable commercial production of living materials at the human scale.Ecovative, for example, grows foam-like materials using fungal mycelium.Biomasonproduces biocemented blocks and ceramic tiles using microorganisms. Although these products are rendered lifeless at the end of the manufacturing process, researchers from Delft University of Technology have devised a way toencapsulate and 3D-print living bacteria into multilayer structuresthat could emit light when they encounter certain chemicals.
The field of engineered living materials is in its infancy, and further research and development is needed to bridge the gap between laboratory research and commercial availability. Challenges include cost, testing, certification and scaling up production. Consumer acceptance is another issue. For example, the construction industry has a negative perception of living organisms. Think mold, mildew, spiders, ants and termites. Were hoping to shift that perception. Researchers working on living materials also need to address concerns about safety and biocontamination.
The National Science Foundation recently named engineered living materialsone of the countrys key research priorities. Synthetic biology and engineered living materials will play a critical role in tackling the challenges humans will face in the 2020s and beyond: climate change, disaster resilience, aging and overburdened infrastructure, and space exploration.
If humanity had a blank landscape, how would people build things? Knowing what scientists know now, Im certain that we would not burn limestone to make cement, mine ore to make steel or melt sand to make glass. Instead, I believe we would turn to biology to help us build and blur the boundaries between our built environment and the living, natural world.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
- Loved and Lost: No matter where she lived, Harriet Hohman felt most at home on a stage - NorthJersey.com - August 10th, 2020
- Sacred Heart School - Kalyan's Biomimicry Lab's discovery could change building construction technology i - Times of India - August 9th, 2020
- Termite Control Market 2020 Size by Product Analysis, Application, End-Users, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies and Forecast to 2027 - Owned - August 9th, 2020
- Petition To Remove Farrakhan From Twitter Gains Signatures - The Jewish Voice - August 9th, 2020
- ServiceMaster Names Brett T. Ponton as Its Next Chief Executive Officer - Business Wire - August 8th, 2020
- article image World's most trafficked animal gives Trump new way to hit China - Digital Journal - August 8th, 2020
- Photos found forgotten in a Tulsa home reunited with family - kjrh.com - August 7th, 2020
- Petition to remove Farrakhan from Twitter gains 1400 signatures and counting - Cleveland Jewish News - August 7th, 2020
- Petition to remove Farrakhan from Twitter gains 1,400 signatures and counting - JNS.org - August 7th, 2020
- Movies from Iran competing in Rhode Island festival - Tehran Times - August 7th, 2020
- Termites Archives - Pest Control Hacks - August 6th, 2020
- Termite Bait Systems Market Key Players, Product and Production Information analysis and forecast to 2025 - Owned - August 6th, 2020
- Termite Bait System Products Market is Expected to Thrive at Impressive CAGR by 2026 & Top Key Players are DowDuPont, BASF, Bayer, Sumitomo... - August 6th, 2020
- The new kind of bigotry growing among progressives - opinion - The Jerusalem Post - August 6th, 2020
- Moviegoer: Inheritance - Bay Weekly - August 6th, 2020
- Termite season about to kick off - Shepparton Adviser - August 6th, 2020
- Roasted Winged Termites Are My Favourite Monsoon Snack, Even If Others Might Not Find it 'Appropriate' - VICE - August 6th, 2020
- LETTER: Kristallnacht and pogroms - unfortunately a sign of the times? - Wicked Local Plymouth - August 6th, 2020
- U.S. Pest Protection Inaugural Pest Control Service Center in the Expanding Murfreesboro, TN; Experiencing Growth Amid Pandemic - Yahoo News - August 6th, 2020
- Two more movies from Iran join Rhode Island festival - Tehran Times - August 6th, 2020
- Letter: Rein in the mayor - Anchorage Daily News - August 6th, 2020
- Black Termite Inspector Alleges White Ex-Boss Threatened to Kill Him - MyNewsLA.com - July 9th, 2020
- Termite Treatment Market Growth By Manufacturers, Type And Application, Forecast To 2026 - 3rd Watch News - July 5th, 2020
- Termite Monitoring Service Market Growth By Manufacturers, Type And Application, Forecast To 2026 - 3rd Watch News - July 5th, 2020
- Fiber Cement Siding Market 2020 Worldwide Industry Size, Key Vendors, Growth Drivers, Opportunity And Competitive Landscape Forecast to 2025 - Jewish... - July 4th, 2020
- Termite Control Market Size, Analysis, Trends and Segmented Data by Top Companies and Opportunities 2020-2027 - Cole of Duty - July 3rd, 2020
- COVID19 Impact- Global Termite Control Products Market Recent Industry Developments and Growth Strategies Adopted by Top Key Players: BASF SE,... - July 1st, 2020
- CenTex Foundation Repair Servicing the Temple, Texas Areas Foundation and Leveling Needs - Press Release - Digital Journal - July 1st, 2020
- When Sports Were Played: Kane, Wild Things were able to pull off 2003 comeback - Observer-Reporter - July 1st, 2020
- Termites flying in swarms invade Thailand supermarket as shoppers continue to buy products - 7NEWS.com.au - June 30th, 2020
- Fox Soul Announces It Will Not Broadcast Louis Farrakhan July 4 Address - Jewish Journal - June 30th, 2020
- Summer bug treatments that don't bite - ConsumerAffairs - June 30th, 2020
- What helps, and what doesnt, during a hectic home sale - The Mercury News - June 30th, 2020
- BOOR: Troublesome pests crawling out of the woodwork - hays Post - June 24th, 2020
- The Wonder Of Termites (Yep, That's What I Said) - Connecticut Public Radio - June 24th, 2020
- Europe Pest Control Market to Exhibit Rapid Surge in Consumption in the COVID-19 Crisis - Cole of Duty - June 24th, 2020
- Why is this the most trafficked mammal in the world? | Living - Euronews - June 24th, 2020
- The minister of hate | Opinion | jewishaz.com - Jewish News of Greater Phoenix - June 24th, 2020
- Day of reckoning has arrived for NASCAR and its fans - Yahoo Sports - June 24th, 2020
- Essays on Non-virtual Reality: Examining the big world of the tiny ant - The News-Messenger - June 22nd, 2020
- HGTV's Renovation Island : Everything You Need to Know About Stars Bryan and Sarah Baeumler - Yahoo Finance UK - June 22nd, 2020
- Termite Pictures: Species, Signs and Damage - June 20th, 2020
- Termite Treatment Market Analysis, Top Manufacturers, Share, Growth, Statistics, Opportunities and Forecast To 2026 - Cole of Duty - June 16th, 2020
- Termite Control Market Analysis, Top Manufacturers, Share, Growth, Statistics, Opportunities and Forecast To 2026 - Cole of Duty - June 16th, 2020
- Ant-Man better watch out, because these termites are the supervillains of the insect world - SYFY WIRE - June 15th, 2020
- Termite Control Services Market to Witness Robust Expansion Throughout the Forecast Period 2017 to 2026 - Farmers Ledger - June 15th, 2020
- Homeowners in 'termite belt' should be wary of insect - Henry Herald - June 15th, 2020
- Of dung beetles and elephants - Daily Maverick - June 15th, 2020
- Termite Control Products Market Industry Size, Share and Forecast to 2026 - Weekly Wall - June 15th, 2020
- Aggressive rodents not issue in LR, experts say - Arkansas Online - June 15th, 2020
- Coronavirus threat to global Termite Treatment Market 2020 Industry Share, Size, Consumption, Growth, Top Manufacturers, Type and Forecast to 2027 -... - June 15th, 2020
- 'Renovation Island': Fans worried that Bryan and Sarah might not stay married after the show - MEAWW - June 15th, 2020
- Homeowners in 'termite belt' should be wary of insect - KPVI News 6 - June 13th, 2020
- China removes Pangolin from its traditional medicine list to protect the endangered animal - Republic World - Republic World - June 13th, 2020
- Harrell: One of the most dangerous driveways in Bluffton - Bluffton Today - June 12th, 2020
- Improved attic ventilation helps protect your roof and keep your home comfortable - theday.com - June 12th, 2020
- Harrell: One of the most dangerous driveways in Bluffton - Online Athens - June 10th, 2020
- New books present the PhyloCode, an evolution-based system for naming organisms - University of Florida - June 10th, 2020
- Termite Treatment Market 2019 Break Down by Top Companies, Countries, Applications, Challenges, Opportunities and Forecast 2026 - Cole of Duty - June 10th, 2020
- The Walking Dead star reveals horror at cannibal slaughterhouse scenes where men were hung from hooks and - The Sun - June 10th, 2020
- Impact of COVID-19 on Termite Control 2020 Industry Growth, Size, Trends, Share, Opportunities and Forecast to 2026 - 3rd Watch News - June 9th, 2020
- Back From Extinction: Returning Threatened Pangolins to the Wild - EcoWatch - June 9th, 2020
- Enviro-Safe Protection Pest Control Services, Inc., announced today they have again won the coveted Angie's List Super Service Award - Press Release -... - June 9th, 2020
- At the zoo, meerkats work for their dinner with the help of GE engineers and some titanium - The Cincinnati Enquirer - June 9th, 2020
- For The Love Of Mulch And Mulching! Inorganic Mulch & Termites - Osprey Observer - June 6th, 2020
- Covid-19 Impact on Global Termite Drug, Market Insights and Forecast to 2026 - 3rd Watch News - June 6th, 2020
- The Barton mansion: A building worthy of a novel - Richmond.com - June 6th, 2020
- Stay Orders - A termite in the Indian Justice System - Lexology - June 5th, 2020
- COVID-19 Update: Global Termite Drug Market is Expected to Grow at a Healthy CAGR with Top players: Bifenthrins, Borates, Sulfuryl Fluorides, Others,,... - June 5th, 2020
- Pest Control Market Size Worth USD 31.94 Billion by 2027; Rising Adoption of Pest Control Software will Add Impetus to Market, Says Fortune Business... - June 5th, 2020
- 4 Signs Your Home Has Termites and 4 Ways to Prevent Them - WDRB - June 4th, 2020
- It's the time for storm-proofing; frequent weeding; and making careful cuts in the garden - NOLA.com - June 4th, 2020
- 7 Signs of Termites in Your Home | Today's Homeowner - June 2nd, 2020
- Termites | New York State Integrated Pest Management - June 2nd, 2020
- Termite Swarmers: Life Cycle, Identifying, & Treatment ... - June 2nd, 2020
- Flying Ants vs. Termites | The Family Handyman - June 2nd, 2020
- Flying Termites with Wings (Swarmers) Pictures & How to ... - June 2nd, 2020
- How to Get Rid of Termites | Top 10 Home Remedies - June 2nd, 2020
- Pen in Hand: Legless Lizard: the snake-like lizards that hardly anyone ever sees - Tehachapi News - June 2nd, 2020
- Impact of Covid-19 Outbreak on Termite Control Market 2020 Trends, Growth Opportunities, Demand, Application, Top Companies and Industry Forecast 2026... - May 31st, 2020