“Johny likes plants, but he is a bit worried about them when he is away and nobody can water them.Mary isn’t that interested in plants but she is a bit worried about theclimate effects of her energy consumption.John gets a new plant with a Natural Fuse because it can take care of itself when he’s away.Mary gets a new plant with a Natural Fuse because it has a system that absorbs the carbon footprint of things that are plugged into it. Since Natural Fuses are all networked together, if she has excess capacity in her Natural Fuse then it can offset the energy use by other people elsewhere in the city.One day Mary is able to use her lamp for 3 times longer than usual because nobody else in the system is using theircapacity.One day John’s plant is killed because someone in the system exceeded the energy limit.

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Natural Fuse manual

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Natural Fuse research Document

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Natural Fuse creates a city-wide network of electronically-assisted plants that act both as energy providers and as circuit breakers.

Every seemingly helpful device that a human being uses has its own carbon “footprint” which, in excess, can harm other living beings. “Natural fuse” is a micro scale CO2 monitoring & overload protection framework that works locally and globally, harnessing the carbon-sinking capabilities of plants.

Natural fuses allow only a limited amount of energy to be expended in the system; that amount is balanced by the amount of CO2 that can be absorbed by the plants that are growing in the system.

In the same way that circuit-breakers are useful for preventing excessive current use, so too can the Natural Fuse plants break the CO2 footprint “circuit”.

What would you do? Use less energy?Or supersize the fuse?


The system

The simplest system is one Natural Fuse unit and one 9V appliance on your desktop - we'll provide you with a lamp, a radio or a fan. You can choose to be "selfless" or "selfish" in your consumption, but remember to keep the water bottles topped up so that the Natural Fuse unit can take care of watering the plants as necessary.

By networking Natural Fuses together, the plants are able to share their capacity and take advantage of carbon-sinking-surplus in the system since not all Natural Fuses will be in use at any one time.

If people cooperate on energy expenditure then the plants thrive (and everyone may use more energy); but if they don't then the network starts to kill plants, thus diminishing the network's electrical capacity.


The main intention of this project is to balance the carbon footprint and carbon sink of electricity usage and plants in the system. The electricity depends on the plants just as the plants depend on the electricity. And people depend on both.

Natural Fuse is composed of 3 components: fuse unit (the plant in the pot), appliances and Pachube (an existing public system we have developed to share real time sensor and actuator data between remote environments via the internet).


The fuse unit comes with “fuse care” function, which helps take care of your plant via a remotely activated water-controlling-system. This function will work only if there is enough energy left to use.

But if too much energy has been used, “fuse kill” function will be activated.“Fuse kill” function literally kills the plant, breaks the circuitand allows no electricity flow through the outlet that this plant is connected to.


Interaction & participation:

On the unit, there is power-activation switch, which the owners can adjust depending on how much they want to use the energy. There are 3 modes, OFF, SELFLESS and SELFISH.
In “OFF” mode, the system uses minimal energy, turns itself on once every hour.
No energy flows to the appliance
connected to the unit.

As a result, the overall CO2 absorbed in the whole system gradually increases, and the plants in this unit are cared for by the system.
In “SELFLESS” mode, the unit gives power to appliance at a rate that ensures CO2 production and capturing in the entire Natural Fuse system remain in

As a result, owner might be able to turn on the lamp for 10 mins a day, depending on status of the whole system and consumption rate of the appliance.

In “SELFISH” mode, the unit gives as much power to appliance as it needsAs a result, the owner can use the appliance as normal but it might cause the whole CO2 absorbed in the system to decrease or even lead to total systematic breakdown.



Community Website:

The Natural Fuse website (www.naturalfuse.org) is the place to find out about the network's status and also individual Natural Fuse units: a social networking site for plants and their owners.

Here you can find out who has been "selfish" or "selfless", who has killed whose plants and you can also download the complete research report and instruction manual.


Take a Natural Fuse home with you!

Participants can 'rent' a Natural Fuse either by lending plants to the exhibition, or by paying money ($50.00) which will be donated in your name to the Bronx River Arts Center with a link to http://www.bronxriverart.org/

You can take a Natural Fuse home for 1 month (which can be extended unless someone else is on the waiting list). You will need an internet connection, and a router with an ethernet port. You can also take a lamp, a radio or a fan to plug into it.

If you have 'rented' your Natural Fuse by lending plants, then these will be applied to offset the carbon footprint of making a single cup of coffee. Depending on how many plants are in the exhibition, more cups of coffee can be made! Please come and collect your plants at the end of the exhibition.


During research and development we encountered several issues that have affected the design process. These highlight the kinds of challenge faced by "carbon sinking" initiatives in general.

First, the amount of CO2 that a single houseplant can sink is much smaller than expected. What would you do? Use less energy? Or supersize the fuse? You might need 360 plants to offset your 50W lightbulb!

Second, when a plant dies any carbon sequestered during the growth period is, in the absence of continued sequestration (e.g. by sealing it deep within the earth), soon released back into the atmosphere. A zero-sum situation depends entirely on where the arbitrary boundaries of the system are drawn. What would you do with your plant? Eat it? Bury it? Weave it?