World’s first algae-powered building set to open

A unique algae-powered building is to be officially unveiled on Saturday at the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg.

It’s the world’s first such building and has been constructed by engineering firm Arup.

A “bioreactor façade” has been mounted as a “second skin” onto the sun-facing sides of the BIQ building. The panels contain algae that grows in the direct sunlight. It can then be harvested and turned into a biofuel-like pulp that is burned in a generator at the heart of the building.
Algae powered building
Wired News reports that the algae feeds on carbon dioxide and nutrients that are supplied via a water pump, and further energy is also harvested by solar panels, with energy stored for later use in 80m deep boreholes filled with brine.

The whole building is intended to be completely self-sufficient and the algae panels are each just over 8′ by 2′ in size, with a total surface area of 2152 square.

“Using bio-chemical processes in the façade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept.” says Arup’s research lead for Europe, Jan Wurm. “It might well become a sustainable solution for energy production in urban areas, so it is great to see it being tested in a real-life scenario.”

Arup led the design project, which also included work by Splitterwerks Architects from Austria and Germany’s SSC Strategic Scientific Consult. It was funded by the German government’s “Zukunft Bau” (“Future Construction”) subsidy, which looks to support innovation in the construction industry when it comes to renewable and zero-energy design.

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