SUMMARY: Multifunctional Membrane: Self-Active Building Cells, Not Building Blocks are the centerpieces of a technology that could potentially provide inexpensive, biodegradable, living, breathing “skins” for buildings that would auto-regulate in response to heat, light and humidity and provide climate control, ventilation and lighting without mechanical systems, thereby radically reducing energy use and costs, especially in tropical regions under critical environmental and socio-economic stresses.
PROBLEM SPACE: “The largest total energy use in developing nations is today double the total of the energy use in developed nations. Conservative projections estimate that by 2050 the energy use of developing nations will be five times as much as developed nations. Therefore, we must shift our lenses towards high-tech solutions for low cost applications suitable for the needs of regions under critical environmental and socio-economic stresses.
Since the bulk of the population concentration of developing nations is situated in urban enclaves in tropical regions, it is critical to develop net-zero strategies that synergistically foster equity. The primary concentration of thermal gains (heat and light) and humidity transfer occurs through the building enclosure. Multifunctional enclosures that operate through zero energy input or maintenance and no emissions can radically transform resource efficiency. If the energy and material flows are synergistically optimized through a material programmed with self-regulation, the enclosure becomes, as in nature, a multifunctional skin. Our initiative comprises a self-regulated membrane that through self-actuation controls its pores‰Ûª apertures (intake rate of natural ventilation) combined to a light transmission and an internal desiccant membrane. Enclosures of active matter can forge the new era of passive architecture. ”
SOLUTION: “Since the principal concentration of population in developing nations is at present and projected to augment in tropical regions, it is crucial to advance building systems for this climate zone and socioeconomic contexts. Furthermore, these are also the regions where the largest need for deployable relief structures due to natural disasters and climate change effects concentrate. It is therefore, critical to revolutionize building membranes with broad applicability suitable for permanent, transient and temporal structures. Such building membranes should also be designed to be applicable for varying scales from housing to collective community spaces, such as schools, markets, stadiums, and health clinics.
Our initiative consists of a membrane made of a material with programmed self-regulation that can optimize synergistically the transfer of heat, light, and humidity through zero energy input or maintenance. Through an array of multiple microscale pores and microlens, our pioneering breathing membrane works as an integrative sensor and actuator system designed for multifunctional optimization. As in nature, the material is itself the system rendering a closed-loop membrane for tropical climates applicable for both permanent and emergency structures feasible and low cost.”
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