The Coral: a New Approach to Home Algae Farming

Hyunseok An, a graduate assistant at the Nature Lab, has created The Coral, an “indoor microalgae farm designed to welcome algae into our everyday lives” and homes.

Inspired by the Korean term, “Ulrim,” Hyunseok strives to incorporate “inner reverberation” into his daily practice. His goal is to create “long-lasting impressions on our society” through sustainable design.

Hyunseok wanted to reproduce the environmental and health applications of algae through a medium that is easy-to-use and looks unique in any home. His algae farm is both aesthetically powerful and practical. Constructed with 16 culture cells, which make up the wall-mounted bioreactor, the streamlined device intuitively mimics symbiotic processes that occur in wild marine ecosystems.

Each cell is equipped with purified water, salt, microalgae, and algae food. The cell follows a biweekly replenishment cycle, meaning up to two grams of microalgae (or spirulina), can be harvested per day. Over the course of two weeks the cells transition from transparent to a verdant shade of green, at which time the algae are ready to be harvested.

The cells are decorated with a pattern that resembles branching coral, hence the farm’s name. Aside from capturing the imagination, Hyunseok wanted to educate users about the “environmental importance of algae through a symbol of revitalizing coral.” He hopes this product will encourage people to reimagine their relationship with algae and make a greater effort to incorporate nature into our expanding lifestyles.

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