Nano Vent-Skin by Agustin Otegu



Nano Vent-skin is a conceptual project by young designer Agustin Otegu, featuring miniscule bio-turbines that could clad buildings to generate energy and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


The project suggests using several kinds of micro organisms to create a material which performs different functions where needed, absorbing and transforming natural energy from the surroundings.


See the project website for more information.


Here's some text from Otegu:


Nano Vent-Skin
This project was born after seeing all the gigantic projects being built around the world where it seems that in order to be green you have to think big and build something impressively huge. Why don't we start thinking on a smaller scale and apply it to existing buildings, houses and structures (tunnels, road barriers, etc) to generate energy?

nvs_wind_study_3.jpgWith this approach Nano Vent-skin tries to make existing objects greener with a skin made out of micro wind turbines.
NVS is a set of micro turbines (25mmx10,8mm), which generate energy from wind and sunlight


How does NVS work?
The outer skin of the structure absorbs sunlight through an organic photovoltaic skin and transfers it to the nano-fibers inside the nano-wires which then is sent to storage units at the end of each panel.


Each turbine on the panel generates energy by chemical reactions on each end where it makes contact with the structure. Polarized organisms are responsible for this process on every turbine’s turn. The inner skin of each turbine works as a filter absorbing CO2 from the environment as wind passes through it.


Each panel has four round supply units (one on each corner). These units are in charge of:

  • Monitoring that all the turbines are working.
  • Delivering material to regenerate broken or malfunctioning turbines.
  • Receiving and storing the energy produced by the turbines.

nvs_model_005-1a.jpgThe fact of using nano-bioengineering and nano-manufacturing as means of production is to achieve an efficient zero emission material which uses the right kind and amount of material where needed.


These micro organisms have not been genetically altered; they work as a trained colony where each member has a specific task in this symbiotic process. For example, an ant or a bee colony, where the queen knows what has to be done and distributes the tasks between the members.


Imagine NVS as the human skin. When we suffer a cut, our brain sends signals and resources to this specific region to get it restored as soon as possible. NVS works in the same way. Every panel has a sensor on each corner with a material reservoir. When one of the turbines has a failure or breaks, a signal is sent through the nano-wires to the central system and building material (micro organisms) is sent through the central tube in order to regenerate this area with a self assembly process.


As researchers have stated, nano-manufacturing will be a common way to produce everyday products.
In order to achieve the best outcome of energy, the blades of each turbine are symmetrically designed. With this feature, even if the wind's direction changes, each turbine adapts itself by rotating clockwise or anti-clockwise, depending on the situation.


NVS is not trying to reinvent or reshape nature. It’s just acting as a merger of different means and approaches into energy absorption and transformation, which will never happen in nature. For example: a palm tree can never learn from an arctic raspberry bush or a bonsai tree if they never coexist within the same surroundings.


NVS takes advantage of globalized knowledge of different species and resources and turns them into a joint organism where three different ways of absorbing and transforming energy work in symbiosis. Using nano-manufacturing with bioengineered organisms as a production method, NVS merges different kinds of micro organisms that work together to absorb and transform natural energy from the environment.


What comes out of this merging of living organisms is a skin that transforms two of the most abundant sources of green energy on earth: sunlight and wind. There is another advantage of using living organisms: the absorption of CO2 from the air.


Posted on Monday May 19th 2008 at 4:13 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Zenza


  • sam

    I’m glad to see architects/designers thinking in new ways to address energy.
    This is a nice solution. Though at the scale described, these turbines would be quite fragile, I’d guess.

  • famul

    Oh, no!

  • Great! all we need know is to create some tiny brushes and nano-people to do the maintenance.

  • lin

    heeee i think its super nice and funny.. i mean why not?

  • sufin

    Well? Well done I suppose? I must admit I like star trek stuff.

  • CPCP

    Not entirely sure what the CFD image is proving!!!!?????

    I love how FE and CFD images so often get included in design reports/summaries without labelled axes, or any explanation whatsoever as to what the image is showing, proving or disproving. It is therefore USELESS, and instead implies that the inventor/designer has a good grasp of the principles and engineering at work, and therefore the idea/concept must, at some level work — sadly this is so very often NOT the case!!!

    I fear this is a good example, particularly with regards to the design in general of the wannabe VAWT turbines, and hence their efficiency and operating range – not to mention the scaling issues.

    Sorry to be so negative.
    Innovative idea though. Never say never

  • djh282

    Though I like the idea, I’m afraid it can be considered nothing more than sci-fi technology right now. The explanation given here has as much merit as Scotty’s replies to Captain Kirk as to why the engines aren’t working in this week’s episode. If this were coming from a team of designers, bio-geneticists engineers, electrical engineers, and nano technologists with specific (even if somewhat far-off or distant) solutions, I would be more apt to buy into the idea.

    That said, I applaud it as a Sci-Fi idea. Nothing wrong with putting things like this out there, just so long as it’s not passed off as valid scientific idea. Don’t throw out your solar panels or wind turbines until you see these on store shelves.

  • xearo

    errr if this isn’t a serious engineering project why do it in the first place?
    there’ are much more interesting projects being actually conducted by scientists and engineers

  • I think this is rad. Well done to them, its a fantastic concept, its future thinking, addressing real issues and looks super cool. Maybe a bit sci-fi, but someone has to do all that sort of hinking because it looks like all the negative pragmatists are very busy blogging their negativity here.!.

  • sam

    Hey all:

    I understand that this might not be a reality yet, but don’t you think it’s important for designers to be tinkering, coming up with wild ideas that may even be the stuff of fantasy? If the architectural community isn’t addressing issues of energy, then they’re not doing their jobs responsibly.

    Though it may be completely unfeasible, at least for today, this designer (or designers)is helping to lay the groundwork for more serious thought on the issue.

    So I’m encouraging Agustin Otegu not to give up! Let’s see Nano Vent-Skin 2.0.

  • Fling

    I have also developed my own response to global warming in relation to the most harmful gas – methane – I call it the trouser fart collector. I simply connect (I shall not go into details at this stage) an airtight plastic bag to my anus , its litrage roughly equivalent to a daily bottom exhalation. A single way valve secures the gas. When I get home, i connect the bag(s) up to my cooker and use the fuel collected for that day! Judicious choice of meal means that any surplus the following day can be fed back into the grid!! I have also avoided this harmful (not to mention noxious) emission reaching our beloved ozone layer. The trousers are another design challenge which i will detail later. The plus point of all this, is that it is completely achievable with conventional technologies, and can be expanded to cover almost every life form on earth. Cows for instance. Minus the trousers. Hard to connect the bags to squirrels though.

  • xearo

    @ pro vent skin types
    rubbish : wind turbines in urban areas are relatively ineffectual because of the size needed to produce any amount of useful energy to counter their embedded energy costs, they’re also ugly. But they also have to be tall to tap into the major wind currents above a few stories…in short they’re green wash – like most things they need to be on mass scale with reliable and consistant output to be useful to our civilisation. why would the ‘nano’ vent be any better?
    there’s no reason designers shouldn’t get involved with coming up with ideas and thinking about what buildings could be- but they should base it on thought through ideas extrapolated from interesting avenues of actual research…
    what about piezo-electrics? what about solar power? both of these are attracting loads of financial and technical interest

    what about a pitch black rainforect of mechanical foliage – that maximises surface area by taking the forms of leaves, and maximises light absorption by being matte black – to colect solar power on the top of buildings?

  • xearo

    in answer to what i’ve just written – that sounds wonderful but its totally made up (actually cribbed from a charles stross book- which was written about 5 years ago)- and no doubt the real world with real research will produce something much more fascinating and workable

  • John

    jajaja, this gave me a good laugh. Nowadays people just come up with anything, render it and other people believe it!

  • John

    So many designs concentrate on some science fiction intervention, a deus ex machina strategy of invention (in this case nano-bioengineering). It was the belief that science can (and will) just figure it out that propelled us to potential climate collapse, yet we still look to it as a savior. I am frustrated with designs that let us have our cake and eat it too through some miraculous invention. Scientifically, the truth is glaringly clear, we are simply eating too much cake.

    Also, to follow up on xearo’s post, turbine power potential is dependent on rotor radius squared, substrate velocity cubed, and substrate density (with a few other small variables related to efficiency of the axle, resistance of the turbine surface, etc.) This combination of variables shows why a single hydroelectric turbine is far more productive than several large scale wind turbines: water is dense and very fast moving, air is not dense and relatively slow. Wind turbine compensate by increasing rotor radius to windmill sizes. Nano-scale turbines would have an almost negligible power output, particularly when compared with energy invested in their research, development, manufacture and deployment.

    So lets hang up the fancy renderings and science fiction language for a minute and concentrate on reduction and efficiency. Sorry for the slam post, it just gets me when science is wielded like magic.

  • CPCP

    “negligible power output, particularly when compared with energy invested in their research, development, manufacture and deployment.”

    completely agree. too often the operating performance of these inventions does not take into account the capitol, resources and impact that their research, development and manufacture/deployment demanded.
    toyota prius for example.

  • zuy

    Starck “innovates” with less….

  • “Starck “innovates” with less….” May I add : and useless :)
    I loved the “the trouser fart collector” idea. I would like to suggest this device to put in use for some important EU meetings on sustainability issues :)))

  • bhushan

    Please tell me 'what are the main limitations of this concept NVS?'