Hello BESTers,
After many attempts to embed Photovoltaic systems into building envelopes, time has come for bioreactors to be tested as facade elements.
The entire frontage of a four-story, corner building in Hamburg, Germany, has been turned into a living power plant and is now called the Bio Intelligence Quotient (BIQ) house. Thanks to a $6.5 million investment, since April 2013, 129 glass bioreactors have been producing energy and bubbly visual effects.  The concept was devised by a local inventor and then further developed by a team of specialists at Arup, a British engineering firm, including Jan Wurm, an architect specialized in glass structures.
The BIQ's complex circulatory system utilizes compressed air to keep the algae alive and circulate heat through pipes embedded in room floors; preheats water stored in 260 ft deep boreholes; and ultimately turn the wheels of a power generator. Once a week or so the algae are filtered and trucked to be processed into methane and hydrogen.
Personal comment: given the energy intensive materials, only a complete life-cycle analysis would confirm any claims of carbon neutrality, but the BIQ house is certainly an impressive initial exploration of a promising frontier.
Text based on an article by David Ferris, Sierra Club Magazine
New York Times article:
If you speak German, a lecture by Jan Wurm about the project: http://youtu.be/sfOgxxvi9Yg
Thank you,
Flavio M Hazan
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PhD Candidate
University of Florida
Interdisciplinary Ecology, UF School of Natural Resources and Environment
UF IFAS Extension Program for Resource Efficient Communities