As the public becomes more environmentally conscious, the demand for “green” home technology has grown. Automated home systems to cut back on wasted energy, energy-efficient appliances, solar panels, geothermal heating; so what is the next frontier?
According to a new report from Discovery News, Julian Melchiorri, an engineer with the Royal College of Art, has developed a synthetic leaf that can breathe on its own, as part of the college’s Innovation Design Engineering course. Melchiorri, working in partnership with Tufts University silk labs, wanted to “use the efficiency of nature in a man-made environment”, and thus created the “Silk Leaf”. This is the first biological man-made material, and lives and breathes as a leaf does. Harnessing the photosynthetic process used by all plants, Melchiorri has created a material that can actually produce oxygen.
In what will certainly pique the interest of home interior designers, particularly those focused on green home design, Melchiorri says that his synthetic leaves can also be used as natural wallcoverings. Used as wallpaper wallcoverings, the leaf will work as a natural HEPA filter, breathing in the impurities in a home’s air and breathing out clean oxygen. This material also has potential use outside the home- such as in facades and ventilation systems, absorbing air from the outside and putting out oxygenated and purified air inside.
Using a matrix of silk proteins embedded with chloroplasts (the production centers used by plants to photosynthesize energy and convert carbon dioxide into oxygen), Melchiorri believes his design could be a significant step forward for mankind as they look to expand beyond Earth.Thus, he has created a new material that would breathe in the dangerous levels of carbon dioxide astronauts have to deal with, both in the International Space Station and in their suits, breathing out oxygen in its place.
Green Innovations Are Increasingly Focused on the Home
While Melchiorri’s design is only incidentally useful for homeowners, it does continue a trend for modern interior designers and engineers looking to make green technologies a fashionable part of the home. As Huffington Post details, just five years ago, the top interior designers were deriding the idea that home fashions and design could ever be eco-friendly. Now, huge companies, like Honda, are partnering with the University of California Davis to focus on creating new green technologies for the home. If the new lights, paneling, shingles, and other technology the partnership has yielded were implemented across California, the state estimates it would be a carbon neutral state by 2020, as UC Davis reports, which is pretty impressive!
Save Money, Save the Planet
One of the biggest obstacles for the overall green industry, whether you’re talking about automobiles or clean energy farms, has been that very few people buy into the technology, relatively speaking. In the case of green technology for the home, things are markedly different, as The Washington Post reports. On average, a home that takes advantage of green wallpaper wallcoverings and other green tech will see its value jump by as much as 9%.
Undoubtedly, homeowners are happy to do their part to help the environment, especially when it comes with these added financial incentives. As Julian Melchiorri and Tufts University begin to shop around the technology that could give homeowners breathing walls, it’s likely that, like now-affordable solar panels, geothermal heating systems, and eco-friendly building materials, synthetic leaf wallpaper wallcoverings will become another staple of the green home movement.
Would you give “breathing” wallpaper a chance in your home? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.