The UNC Charlotte School of Architecture’s Integrated Design Research Lab (IDRL) has received two National Science Foundation I-Corps grants for additional research of microalgae facades and adaptable solar windows. Each project will receive $50,000 and specialized team training to develop the commercial potential of the technology.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the I-Corps grants to help faculty and students “extend their focus beyond the university laboratory and accelerate the economic and societal benefits of NSF-funded, basic-research projects that are ready to move toward commercialization.”  Both IDRL projects aim to enable conventional building enclosures to produce on-site renewable energy and to reduce building energy consumption.

The team behind the microalgae façade project includes Associate Professor of Architecture Kyoung Hee Kim, director of the IDRL (principal investigator); Assistant Professor of Architecture Chengde Wu; and Fan Lu of the Algaen Corporation.

The adaptable solar window team includes Assistant Professor of Architecture Catty Dan Zhang (principal investigator), Ph.D. candidate Ok-Kyun Im and David Crabtree of Perkins + Will architectural firm.

Both teams were named to the summer 2019 I-Corp cohort in New York City and will participate in a seven-week curriculum, July 9-August 23. Subsequent to the training, the teams will seek additional research grants to support one-to-one prototyping and experimentation in accordance with industry standards.

The IDRL microalgae façade project was recently featured in the Architects Newspaper.

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Originally published June 5, 2019.