Bioreactors, systems for growing organisms, can be used on the outside of buildings to generate both oxygen and energy. They accomplish this by creating hundreds of pounds of microalgae, which in a day can release the oxygen equivalent of 400,000 square feet of trees and are enough biofuel to provide for a significant portion of the building’s energy needs.
Such a system already exists in Germany- learn more about it:
This technology may sound far-fetched, but a similar approach has already been successfully deployed in the world’s first bio-adaptive facade. Featuring SolarLeaf technology developed by Arup and Colt International GmbH, the BIQ House in Hamburg, Germany houses over 100 bioreactors teeming with microalgae. The integrated systems at work here form a unique architectural ecosystem in which living organisms play a crucial part.
Bioreactors around the exterior of the structure generate renewable energy from algal biomass and solar thermal heat. A series of transparent glass facade panels house the microscopic algae, forming a closed-loop system independent of soil or weather conditions. Energy generated can be used to modulate temperature or supply hot water. In this case, the system services 1/3 of the building’s heating needs.
The biomass does more than simply provide energy – it also works as dynamic shading and acoustic buffering system that responds naturally to external changes. The more sunlight the system gets, the more the biomass grows and blocks off excess natural light. During peak daylight hours, this provides an organic and automatic shade and noise reduction layer to protect interior spaces.