Algae-powered apartment complex blooms in Hamburg
The algae flourish and multiply in a regular cycle until they can be harvested. They are then separated from the rest of the algae and transferred as a thick pulp to the technical room of the BIQ. The little plants are then fermented in an external biogas plant, so that they can be used again to generate biogas. Algae are particularly well suited for this, as they produce up to five times as much biomass per hectare as terrestrial plants and contain many oils that can be used for energy.
The BIQ has a holistic energy concept: it draws all of the energy needed to generate electricity and heat from renewable sources — fossil fuels remain untouched. It is able to generate energy using the algae biomass harvested from its own façade. Moreover, the façade collects energy by absorbing the light that is not used by the algae and generating heat, like in a solar thermal unit, which is then either used directly for hot water and heating, or can be cached in the ground using borehole heat exchangers — 80 metre-deep holes filled with brine. This remarkably sustainable energy concept is therefore capable of creating a cycle of solar thermal energy, geothermal energy, a condensing boiler, local heat, and the capture of biomass using the bio-reactor façade.
Using bio-chemical processes in the façade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept. 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.
Two of the total of fifteen apartments to be housed in the BIQ do not have separate rooms, but rather enable the inhabitants to configure their living arrangements 'on demand.' Depending on their needs, individual functions of the apartment — bathroom, kitchen, sleeping area — can be swapped about or combined to form a "neutral zone." In this way, the necessities of everyday life determine the appearance of the apartment, and the versatile layout can be adapted to suit the residents and their daily lives at any given time.
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