Sunday, April 21, 2013

Algae Powered Heaven

A few days ago, I discovered something really awesome.

Grist, a humorous environmental news site, posted a piece about green power.  Not just any green power, though...

Algae Power!

Algae with mouth wide open and arms raised.  Sharp sword in one hand, large bicep evident in second arm.

Well, ok... not that kind of power.  They were actually talking about energy production.

Algae trapped within water filled glass. "Help...?" Tubes hang out the top right corner.  Electricity bolts surround them.

See, according to the Grist piece that I read, written by John Upton, there's an apartment building powered by algae standing in the middle of Hamburg, Germany.

How cool is that?! 

The company that designed it is Arup, whose 'About' page states that they are
" independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists offering a broad range of professional services. Through our work, we make a positive difference in the world. We shape a better world."
I find it hard to disagree, after learning about this building. It's like they create little pieces of eco-friendly heaven.  

Ever since I first learned about the concept of algae as a power source, I've been excited.  Algae has this really cool ability to grow.  A lot.

You know... like The Blob.

You stick it in some water then thrust it into sunlight, and POW!  You have more algae.  It grows at an extremely fast rate, multiplying into more and more algae, making it a very sustainable resource.

Actually, maybe it's more like a Mogwai than the Blob.  Make sure not to stick a cheeseburger in the tank after midnight... just to be safe.

According to the company,
"The façade concept is designed so that algae in the bio-reactor façades grow faster in bright sunlight to provide more internal shading. The ‘bio-reactors’ not only produce biomass that can subsequently be harvested, but they also capture solar thermal heat – both energy sources can be used to power the building.
In practice, this means that photosynthesis is driving a dynamic response to the amount of solar shading required, while the micro-algae growing in the glass louvres provide a clean source of renewable energy." (source) 
And did I mention that the building even looks good?  No joke, it's both environmentally friendly and pretty sexy.

Algae powered building in Hamburg Germany.  Image by Arup

I'd live there.

Well, at the moment, all I can do is look at it.  But!

It's going live on April 25th. That is, that's the day that it will go into full operational mode.  Anybody want to donate a ticket to Hamburg for me?

What about you, though?  We know I'd jump on the opportunity to live in this algae powered building.  It would be like a trip to heaven.

Would you?

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