ORE Design + Technology

ORE Design + Technology

Brooklyn, NY



Photosynthetic City: A Biologically Produced Hydrogen Future

A self-sufficient community designed around a modular architectural panel that organically produces hydrogen from living algae, thus providing a localized source of energy, water, and food.

Photosynthetic City brings clean, safe, energy production directly to the consumer, thereby negating inefficient transportation and capitalizing on formerly unused waste-stream potentials.

Hydrogen is produced/converted onsite into electric and heat energy. The byproducts are drinking water for the community and algae biomass to nourish local food-producing gardens.

We’ve developed a unitized model of hydrogen producing algae panels to be placed in an urban environment as a more efficient, less polluting alternative to today’s photo-voltaics.

What Makes it Important?:


The United States consumes 25% of the world's energy with only a 5% share of the world population.* The vast majority of this energy is produced -at great distances from the consumers resulting up to 66% loss in transmission/transportation inefficiencies. Indeed, the outsourcing of our immediate needs such as Water, Food, Energy accounts for a severe systemic loss. With a rapidly expanding global population and dwindling resources in the developed nations, it is of increasing importance that the model through which we feed, cloth, and keep ourselves comfortable sheds as much waste as possible. Photosynthetic City is a Living system that creates its own power, heat, and drinking water. The urban block is designed to maximize solar angles, create continuous green public spaces, and 30% arable land footprint for food producing community and private gardens

Green Algae, more specifically, an engineered Chlamydamonas Reinhardtii, CHL fuels Photosynthetic city. CHL, when removed from an oxygen rich environment and starved of sulfur begins converting solar energy to hydrogen.

CHL is roughly 3000 times more efficient in producing hydrogen than wild strains, at a 25% efficiency rate published in 2008. Truncated chlorophyll antennae and genetic modification to C. Reinhardtii’s hydrogenase enzyme are predicted to bring Hydrogen producing Algae within commercial viability against fossil fuels by 2012. **

As this new technology’s dawn approaches, it is important to design ways to capitalize on its immediate benefits. We see this not simply as a revolution in ecological fuel sources, but as a revolution in the structure of our fuel supply system. When fuel is no longer an ecologically harmful process to create, it no longer needs to be produced in remote locations that cause further pollution and energy expenditure in transportation.

The farmed hydrogen is stored then converted to Heat and Power and also pure drinking water in an onsite fuel cell. Buildings begin to function as plants in nature, creating their own energy through photosynthesis, which courses through their circulatory systems like xylem and phloem. As the collected hydrogen flows inwards from leaves to core; power, heat and water branch outwards.

*U.S. Department Of Energy, “Energy Information Administration”; International Energy Annual, 2006 **U.S. Department of Energy, “Hydrogen Production Program”; Annual Report, 2008


© 2010 ore design and technology

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Status: Competition Entry