A group of researchers at the University of the West of England (UWE) is developing "smart bricks", which are specialized bioreactors for various purposes. Each type of such building elements will solve the specific problem of maintaining a human-friendly environment, generating electricity, oxygen or purifying water.
At the heart of each brick will be colonies of microorganisms called microbial fuel cells (MFCs), which are capable of breaking down organic or inorganic waste and generating electricity in the process.
These peculiar bioreactors will be installed in the walls of buildings by analogy with the structure of a multicellular organism, in which individual groups of cells are responsible for absorbing nutrients, decomposing toxins or generating energy.
Buildings made of such "smart bricks" will be able not only to maintain an optimal ecological environment inside, but also to provide themselves with various types of energy. Built-in bioreactors will compensate for fluctuations in temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and other gases, as well as destroy various organic and inorganic contaminants.