Algae Powered Building Goes Live

by | May 2, 2013

AlgaeAn apartment block in Hamburg, Germany, that uses an algae covered exterior as a bioreactor has become fully operational.

The Bio Intelligent Quotient building features over 2,000 sq ft of integrated photo-bioreactors made from green algae housed in transparent panels (pictured). The “passive-energy house” generates biomass and heat as renewable sources of energy from the algae. At the same time, the system also provides dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, according to Colt International, a company that forms part of the consortium that designed the house.

The BIQ building is on show at International Building Exhibition in Hamburg.

The microalgae used in the facades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors. In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the south west and south east faces of the four-story residential building. The heart of the system is the fully automated energy management centre where solar thermal heat and algae are harvested in a closed loop to be stored and used to generate hot water.

The façade system is the result of three years of research and development by Colt International based on a bioreactor concept developed by SSC Ltd. and design work led by the international design consultant and engineering firm, Arup. Funding support came from the German government’s “ZukunftBau” research initiative.

Martin Kerner, managing director of SSC, said that the design will lead to new opportunities both for energy generation and for an “elegant architectural approach” in the urban development sector.

The BIQ building cost $6.58 millon, reports The New York Times.

In December, OriginOil and Ennesys displayed their algae harvesting system, which the companies say generates clean energy for buildings and helps with water purification, at an urban algae showcase near Paris.

According to the companies, French developers contacted Ennesys, in which OriginOil holds a founding stake, to see if algae production could help meet France’s ambitious mandate that by 2020 all new buildings must generate more clean energy than they consume, and must purify and recycle water naturally.

OriginOil shipped its entry-level Algae Appliance to Ennesys in July. The entry-level unit can process up to four liters (about a gallon) of dilute algae water per minute, intermittently or continuously, without the use of chemicals, into an algae concentrate. The resulting concentrate will then be converted into fuel, electricity and industrial chemicals.

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