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Brief Published: 17 Apr 2013

World’s First Algae-Powered Building


The world’s first algae-powered building has opened in Hamburg, Germany. The five-storey apartment building – called the Bio Intelligent Quotient (BIQ) House – is covered with panels filled with algae that generate renewable energy, hot water and shade for the building.

The algae-filled panels are pumped with a mixture of water, nutrients and carbon dioxide. The algae multiply in good weather as a result of photosynthesis, and the excess is harvested and transferred to a biogas plant inside the building for conversion into electricity.

The BIQ House’s bio-adaptive façade, developed by global engineering firm Arup, is currently being exhibited at the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg. It will become fully operational on April 25 2013.

"Using bio-chemical processes in the façade of a building to create shade and energy is a really innovative concept,” said Jan Wurm, Arup’s Europe research leader. “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."

Algae is the focus of increasing scientific attention in the search for renewable energy sources. University researchers and big brands around the world are working on converting algae into a biofuel, while research into algae’s potential as a food source is ongoing. For more on this topic, read Unlocking Algae and Nature Power.