A prototype of the first ‘living building’ that is surrounded with panels containing microalgae will be launched at the 2013 International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, Germany. The microalgae-filled panels are dual purpose as they give shade against sunlight and generate about 10% of the building’s electricity needs.
An interesting, eco-friendly architecture that provides bio-adaptive lighting, the living building is designed in such a way that the panels can be retrofitted around its exterior sides.
The microalgae that thrive inside these panels collect some of the sunlight for photosynthesis allowing them to proliferate and simultaneously provide blockage of sunlight to the insides of the building.
These green microscopic organisms can also provide electricity in two ways. First, they collect sunlight’s heat energy which is converted to electricity. Second, when these algae are overcrowded, they can be harvested as biomass product and converted to biofuel.
The building design was actually based from a winning entry in 2011 Next Generation Design Competition of Metropolis’ magazine.
Like solar cells, these microalgae panels’ productivity would be weather-dependent; but, they could be a sufficient replacement for solar cell panels in regions that cannot sustain solar cell production.