In this post the new technology from the north of Germany, Hamburg, is described. Here algae are used for harvesting heat and electricity.
Sometimes energy production can be a bit abstract as you just see an engine, some pipes and hear some noise. With this technology people actually can see how the resource for their energy consumption is produced. This is due to the glass containers where the algae grow and turn green when growing in the collector.
The whole technology consists of the biocollector, which contains the algae, a fermenter and a fuel cell. In the biocollector the algae grow while using sunlight, CO2 and other nutrients. When the algae are green they get harvested and are transported into a fermenter. In this facility biogas is produced which is used for heat and electricity production in a fuel cell. In this process CO2 comes into existence. This will be transported in the biocollector for making the algae grow.
Obviously the biocollectors are put on the sides of the house which are facing the sun. In addition to this there is a solar thermal plant in place which collects the radiation missed by the biocollectors. This heat is used for heating water or is stored in the earth.
But this is not the only renewable technology in place. The whole concept can store energy in the earth, district heating and uses a condensing boiler.
In addition it is connected to the grid, where it can put energy in when the energy production is too high or take energy when energy production does not meet demand. All of this will be controlled in a central control system.
The construction started in 2011 and was finished in 2013. At the financial side this project cost 3,4 million €. The house in Hamburg consists of 15 living quarters and has four floors. The size of the apartments is between 50 and 120 m². The area of the biocollectors is bigger than 200m². This concept can harvest 15g/m² of dry biomass. This is converted into ca. 4,500 kWh of energy. A small comparison: A family with four persons demands around 4,000 kWh. Therefore this façade could provide energy for this household.
But this building seems to produce so much energy that it still can provide electricity for virtual power plant called ‘Energieverbund Wilhelmsburg Mitte’.
This system offers one option to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. As this resource is needed to grow the plants it becomes useful to have this gas. With this algae production the light which comes into the house can be controlled and the system takes care of the heat insulation and acoustic protection.
Two units of this house provide a possible future for architectural design. Here the residents can configure their living areas on demand. The need of the residents can be met by swapping around the functions in their apartment.
All of this makes this project very innovative and it is currently the only project in the world with a living façade. This concept can be implemented anywhere in the world. All it needs is a south facing wall and the installation of this technology, so that other people can get a higher insight as well in how the resources are produced for their daily needs.
Attached to this post there is a diagramme which illustrates the process. The original picture can be found here (it is in German though): http://www.biq-wilhelmsburg.de/energiekreislauf/energiekonzept.html
It is worth to have a look on how the façade actually looks like. This can be done here: