This is the kind of green stuff you want on your walls: a new German building opening in early spring will feature the world’s first “bioreactor facade” that uses algae to generate energy.
The walls of the four-story, 15-unit residential BIQ building in Hamburg’s Wilhelmsburg quarter have large glass panels with microalgae inside. The bacteria-sized plants are fed with water and sun until they can be harvested and sent as a thick pulp to a nearby plant that converts the biomass to biogas. The algae will insulate the cubic building and cast shade during the summer months, when the plants will grow fastest as a result of longer days and more sunshine.
The panels can also absorb the sun’s rays to provide hot water and heating to the building, even storing extra heat in the ground as geothermal energy.
BIQ creator Otto Wulff Construction estimates that at a yield of 15 grams of dry biomass weight per square meter per day, the algae facade could generate a net energy gain of about 4,500 kWh per year, while a family of four consumes an average of 4,000 kWh per year.
Several of the apartments have rooms that “are not connected with each other, but features can be added as needed to a neutral zone,” according to an English translation of the BIQ website. This means that the bathroom, kitchen and living room spaces can be reconfigured at the touch of a button, which we’d love to see in action.
The algae-powered building will be shown in the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, which opens March 23. Pictures below from the official site: