Hamburg debut for world’s first algae-based bioreactor façade

Apr 2013

  • The bioreactor façade at the BIQ house is in position and has been successfully showcased for the first time at the opening of the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg in March 2013
  • The integrated algae-based system is now in full operational mode

This is an update to our September news item - "Micro-algae prove ideal for making green façades".

The BIQ house is the world’s first pilot project to showcase a bioreactor façade at the International Building Exhibition (IBA) in Hamburg. With 200m² of integrated photo-bioreactors, this passive-energy house generates biomass and heat as renewable sources of energy. At the same time, the system also provides dynamic shading, thermal insulation and noise abatement, highlighting the full potential of this technology.

The microalgae used in the facades are cultivated in flat panel glass bioreactors. In total, 129 bioreactors have been installed on the south west and south east faces of the four-storey residential building. The heart of the system is the fully automated energy management centre where solar thermal heat and algae are harvested in a closed loop to bestored and used to generate hot water.

The innovative façade system is the result of three years of research and development by Colt International based on a bioreactor 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.

Arup’s Europe Research Leader, Jan Wurm, said, “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.”

Martin Kerner, Managing Director SSC GmbH, said: “A building facade of photobioreactors has been implemented for the first time in the world at the BIQ. This will lead to new opportunities both for energy generation and for an elegant architectural approach in the urban development sector”.

Lukas Verlage, Managing Director Colt International GmbH, said: This is a first and important step in the use of building integrated renewables. It could be said that this kind of technological leap is not very different to that which the aerospace industry once took. Without these kinds of steps we would perhaps, for example, still be without the use of pocket calculators”.

For more information on the bioreactor façade, download the Solarleaf technical datasheet.

Go back