Urban Farming - Microalgae Cultivation on the Facade of a High-rise Building

Apr 19, 2016 2:00 PM

On the EUREF Campus in Berlin, MINT Engineering GmbH has installed a photobioreactor for microalgae cultivation to illustrate its usefulness in large urban areas. The system components were supplied by GF Piping Systems.

Installed photobioreactor at EUREF campus (Source: GF Piping Systems)

The world's population is growing rapidly, and with it the cities. To ensure people are supplied with food and energy in the future, new concepts are needed. One of which is currently being built on the EUREF campus in Berlin-Schöneberg as part of a worldwide unique project: since November 2015, a tubular photobioreactor (PBR) for the cultivation of microalgae winds across the facade of an office building on the campus.

Optimized for use in urban areas

The concept for the facade reactor was elaborated by the newly founded MINT Engineering GmbH. CEO Gunnar Mühlstädt finalized this pilot project together with specialized system builders. At the heart of the system are the specially designed, weather-resistant plastic pipes from GF Piping Systems. Through a customized PMMA formulation, the pipes withstand all temperature and weather influences, allowing all-season algae production. Moreover, the simple connection technology enables cost-effective installation. With a central intelligent control system, the system can be easily checked online and optimally adjusted.

Installed photobioreactor at EUREF campus (Source: GF Piping Systems)

The first test runs have already been launched, the circulatory system - designed on the model of the patented equipment from the Dutch company LGem which already has commercial success with this system - runs smoothly. The system also withstood the winter undamaged, as expected. An LED light strip illuminates the tube system and ensures that the PBR is prominently staged. From spring, the first microalgae are produced – chlorella and spirulina – for use as valuable nutritional supplements. Thus, proof is furnished that the cultivation of microalgae is also possible in the metropolitan area without having to consider using agricultural land.

A look at future projects

Mühlstädt summarizes the project as follows: "This ambitious project was made possible only by the excellent cooperation of all project partners in planning and execution." With this project, new technological territory has been explored for many aspects. "For the future, there are further integral concepts for this type of facade systems at MINT Engineering GmbH," continues Mühlstädt. With this kind of photobioreactors, the supply of energy and food in urban areas could be secured in a sustainable way.

Find more information on microalgae cultivation here: http://www.gfps.com/com/en/about-GF-PipingSystems/innovation/algae.html

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Attila Albert

Attila Albert
Public Relations & Communication
Georg Fischer Piping Systems Ltd.
Ebnatstrasse 111
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attila dot albert #at# georgfischer dot com