Newcastle University plans to build “biological” apartments, which will become a test site for living materials and health
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This experimental biological apartment named “The Ome” will be built on the campus of Newcastle University and is a collaboration with Northumbria University In part, researchers hope it can become a “beacon” for more sustainable building practices. This means reducing the carbon footprint of our construction methods, while also creating a biological environment that is conducive to human long-term health.
For this reason, the design of the independent apartment allows the internal and external wall panels to be exchanged to test different material samples, which will be grown by microorganisms. Research in this area is still in its early stages, but scientists have made progress in engineering bacteria to produce minerals and polymers. For example, in a 2019 study, E. coli was designed to make limestone particles.
The Ome apartment will be located in an experiment Above the room, researchers will conduct research on these types of technologies before testing them upstairs. They will also develop processes that convert toilets, food and other waste into fuel and electricity. At the same time, the team will study the microbial life in the apartment to understand how its different materials and ventilation systems affect the bacterial communities living in it, and explore the harmful and positive results of these changes on human health.
“There is no place like The Ome anywhere in the world,” said Newcastle University professor Martyn Dade-Robertson. “The building will create a space for developing far beyond the most advanced technology.”
The Ome and its laboratories form part of a larger £8 million ($11 million) complex at Newcastle University. The complex is called the “Biotechnology Center in the Built Environment” (HBBE), and its core is the development of biotechnology and sustainable “living buildings”. Currently, the biological apartment is under construction and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2021.