Germany has been named as innovators in many industries. Now Germany can present another innovation in the green technology and architecture. An apartment block in Hamburg, with 15 apartments, has been designed to generate heat and electricity from algae in exterior walls.
This building is indeed a masterpiece and only could have happened due to a successful collaboration of 4 parties: The technology was created by SSC Strategic Science Consult, which developed the building in collaboration with Arup, a design, engineering and consultancy firm; Colt International, a project management company; and Otto Wulff, a Hamburg construction firm.
So how does the energy gets generated? The 2 south facing facades have been covered with a shell of bioreactors, these create and control the environment for the algae. They are clear in nature so the sunlight can be absorbed by the algae and the natural photosynthesis can happen. The access energy, which is not being used in photosynthesis is being converted in energy. Given the algae are growing constantly they have to be harvest on a regular basis and being burned to produce electricity. The algae façade also acts as a natural thermostat which cools the building in the summer as it prevents the sunlight to hit the building.
According to SSC the building the energy conversion is almost 50%, 10% for biogas and 38% for heat. Additionally to the algae feature, the building also creates heat and power from rooftop solar panels and an underground heat storage system, which brings the whole building up to 100% energy efficiency. That makes the building self-sufficient and completely sustainable.
Why don’t all buildings get designed like that, you might want to ask. Well, unfortunately this technology is cutting edge and just got developed recently. Very high costs are involved in the project that lies at approximately €6.3 million. We can only hope that in the future the technology is going to catch up with the need and will make those kind of projects more affordable, so more and more buildings can be designed as efficient as possible.