How architecture can help with oil spills

For their master thesis project, Greek architects Chrysi Vrantsi and Chrysanthi Vasileli, supervised by Dr Maria Voyatzaki, considered how architecture could help design an innovative approach for environmental problems like oil spills.

Called Project C, the concept works with a combination of traction poles, pylons, and drones. The traction poles are located at critical points in the event of an oil spill. Drones then identify and map the spill and disperse and oil-bound oil-bearing material, which is attracted by the pylons that function as magnetic poles.

When the material is collected around the pylons, they secrete a bio-solidifier material to solidify the mixture. This gelling agent is environmentally benign. It uses a sugar-based molecule that can be obtained from renewable and is biodegradable. The solidification takes up to a day.

Some species of algae can be fertilised by oil, which means the solidified oil can help algae grow. These algae, in turn, can be used as an alternative biofuel.

Project C won the international architectural competition Coup de Coeur Award in Paris in 2019, in the category “Innovation and Architecture for the sea”, which was organised by Fondation Jacques Rougerie, a foundation that encourages innovation in architectural undertakings relating to shorelines and the sea.

Images courtesy of Chrysi Vrantsi and Chrysanthi Vasileli