Carbon-Dioxide-Inhaling Facade

Design of a bioreactor facade to produce active ingredients and high-value products



3.5 billion years ago, cyanobacteria created the foundation for life on Earth by producing the oxygen basis for our atmosphere. Should we once again give microorganisms the opportunity to positively influence life on earth? The competition for land between the fuel tank, trough and dinner plate is intensifying as the population grows and land is lost due to climate change. food and resources and improving health standards are fundamental in overcoming the challenges we face. Scientists from various universities as well as the company Wicona are working on a facade-integrated photobioreactor that uses algae and cyanobacteria (combined as micro-algae), to produce a wide variety of products in order to create a new agricultural area in the vertical plane. The facade supports agriculture and its horizontal areas in the production of fertilizer in order to achieve higher yields in a biological manner. The development of such a novel emersed photobioreactor (ePBR) must fulfill various requirements from different fields.

Firstly, the biological environmental parameters must be considered. The micro-algae used in this process grow on surfaces and mainly need light, heat, humidity and CO2to grow. Daylight is provided everyday by the sun. CO2 is present in the outside air, room air and usually excessively in exhaust gases. Waste heat from buildings is also available and can be used for conditioning the reactor. The interface between the natural environment and buildings is the facade and is therefore predestined to provide all environmental parameters as passively as possible. The amount of water can be controlled by using energy-efficient aerosol-based technology.

Furthermore, there is the process concept that must be integrated into the construction. However, attention should also be paid to the general requirements for facades, room qualities and design. The high aesthetics are amplified by the visual effect of nebulous mist moving inside the cavity. The facade can be illuminates at night to guarantee a 24h production, coloring the sleeping city in an atmospheric green hue while inhaling carbon dioxide.


Photo of Prof. Dr. Timo Schmidt

Prof. Dr. Timo Schmidt

Professor for facade technology and design

University of Applied Sciences, Augsburg

Photo of Carmen Herrmann

Carmen Herrmann


University of Applied Sciences, Augsburg

Photo of Dr. Michael Lakatos

Dr. Michael Lakatos


University of Applied Sciences, Kaiserslautern

Photo of Daniel Zabicki

Daniel Zabicki

Scientific Employee

University of Applied Sciences, Kaiserslautern

Photo of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Wahl

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Wahl


University of Applied Sciences, Trier

Photo of Kai Scherer

Kai Scherer

PhD Student

University of Applied Sciences, Trier



One effect of a growing population will be an increased demand for resources and space. According to forecasts, an additional agricultural area approximately the size of Brazil will be in

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Environmental Parameters

To overcome the limitations of existing aquatic systems (submerse) and to achieve a positive cumulative energy balance, the authors invented an air-exposed (emerse) system utilizing terrestrial algae. In comparison

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Development and Construction

Development of the 1:1 Mock-up

The scientific group of the research project "Next Generation Biofilm" developed the first large demonstrator with the size 2.0 m x 1.5 m. A tube reactor

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In addition to the “Inhaling of Carbon Dioxide” topic, the research cluster is evaluating the food production rate, fine dust binding capacity and downstream processes for the extraction of high

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Conclusion and future work

The potential of a façade, which assumes the classic functions of a building envelope as a protective layer, forms synergies with the building, creates new urban agricultural land, inhales/fixes CO2

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Wicona, Hydro Building Systems Germany GmbH

SageGlass, Vetrotech Saint-Gobain International AG

German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; Project: Next Generation Biofilm (BMBF: 031B0068A-E)

Rights and Permissions

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