From bulbs wrapped in wood, folded into funky geometric forms, and designed to pass as their inefficient incandescent predecessors, I’ve taken a look at plenty of weird, wacky and wonderfully inventive LED bulbs. And let us not forget this WiFi-enabled model that allows users to do the “robot chicken dance like it’s 1999” with just a touch of a (smartphone) button.

While all these energy-saving light bulbs can be considered “green,” I’ve yet to encounter a bulb that’s literally green … as in filled with algae.

Until now.

Meet Hungarian designer Bodonyi Gyula’s conceptual — conceptual being the key word here — AlgaeBulb, an LED light bulb that, as described, is filled with microorganisms that power the bulb itself.

Or do they?


Reads a description of the AlgaeBulb on YankoDesign:

The AlgaeBulb is an exploration into the use of the organisms on a micro-scale in single LED lightbulb that harnesses the green-power of algae. Using a small air pump compressor, tank, and hydrophobic material, it creates just enough electricity to power the LED for limited durations.

A handful of websites have run with the notion that thanks to the green stuff (chlorella pyrenoidosa spirulina microalgae, to be exact) growing within it, the teardrop-shaped E27 bulb requires absolutely no outside electricity to operate, relying solely on algae-power. That’s actually not the case at all as AlgaeBulb is more of an indoor air quality-improving mini-oxygen generator that doubles as a traditional light bulb. And by traditional, I mean electricity is needed to power both the air pump compressor and LED. The oxygen produced by a small amount of microalgae inside of a light bulb shell certainly can’t magically produce electricity that, in turns, powers a lighting component.

Gyula’s original description of the concept (I’ve gone ahead and made a few tweaks to the text for better clarification) reads:

AlgaeBulb is some kind of oxygen generator which uses natural and high tech components. The head part contains a LED lamp and a little air pump. This pump compresses the air into the algae tank covered with a hydrophobic material, that keeps the fluidic content in the tank and lets the air flow free. The cover of the tank is a matte translucent polycarbonate shell that leads the LED's light through the body and illuminates both the algae and the interior that it's placed in.

Gyula also clarifies in the comments section of Yanko that “both the pump, and the LED light [are] powered by the electrical network! My goal was to create something that makes the indoor air quality better. This is the cause why it has an E27 socket on the top! Its a light bulb ... basically.”

How the AlgaeBulb works

Now that that’s been settled, I do think this algae-based oxygen generator-cum-lighting fixture that does require electricity still remains a rather fascinating concept. And, of course, it would fit in quite nicely in any tastefully appointed algae-powered abode.

Via [Yanko Design]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

AlgaeBulb is an illuminating, oxygen-generating LED
AlgaeBulb, an LED light bulb that, as described, is filled with microorganisms that power the bulb itself.