The world’s first full-scale Bioreactive façade at the BIQ house in Germany is going ‘live’ as microalgae are fed into the system for the first time.
The tiny green algae will play a huge role in determining the future potential of this technology, which aims to provide shade and a renewable fuel source for the experimental apartment.
The BIQ house was built as part of this year’s International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg. With 200m² of integrated photo-bioreactors, this innovative passive-energy house generates microalgae biomass and heat as renewable energy resources. At the same time, the system integrates additional functionalities such as dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, highlighting the full potential of this technology.
Known as "SolarLeaf", this innovative façade system is the result of three years of research and development by Colt International based on a bio-reactor concept developed by SSC Ltd and design work led by the international design consultant and engineering firm, Arup. Funding support came from the German Government’s “ZukunftBau” research initiative.
The microalgae used in the façades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors measuring 2.5m x 0.7m (8.2 x 2.3 feet). In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the south west and south east faces of the four-story residential building, creating a total surface of 200 square meters (2152 square feet).
Geothermal energy and the connection to the Integrated Energy Network Wilhelmsburg Central secure the heat supply and also serve as a long-term reservoir for the heat that is generated in summer. The extensively greened roof provides the opportunity to harvest electricity via the photovoltaic system.
The apartments will employ the concept used by some dorm rooms and caravans – dwelling on demand has found its contemporary enhanced development in the BIQ. Rooms functions can be alternatively or simultaneously ‘patched into form a neutral zone suitable for different needs.
The BIQ project is a milestone in opening up this value chain and creating a subsequent infrastructure. The developed bioreactors also capture solar thermal heat with an efficiency of approx. 50%. At the BIQ the heat is extracted by the use of heat exchangers and the temperature levels of the excess heat can be increased by using a heat pump for the supply of hot water or heating the building or stored geothermally. The system comprises bioreactor panels, associated mechanical services and the control unit to link the mass flows and optimize the efficiency of the building. The BIQ plays an important role in establishing surplus energy and zero carbon building clusters for the future.
HOW'S THAT FOR A "COOL" FACAD?