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Urban Algae Farms Could Heat Buildings While Treating Wastewater
Pardon the potty talk, but wouldn’t it be great if every time you flushed the toilet you were actually generating heat for your home? That’s exactly what a Los Angeles-based startup is hoping to accomplish. OriginOil, a company that specializes in converting algae into fuel, is working on developing a pilot for an urban algae farm concept that would use wastewater to help grow algae, which is then used to generate energy, treating the wastewater in the process.
According to SmartPlanet, OriginOil has launched a pilot program to test out the algae farm concept at the La Défense complex near Paris. With the RT 2020 sustainable energy framework, the French government mandated that new commercial buildings must purify or recycle water, and they must also produce more clean energy than they consume. Installing heat-generating toilets would help new buildings to achieve both goals.
Additionally, algae has the ability to absorb both CO2 and pharmaceutical chemicals, which are often discarded in wastewater, and can’t be treated by conventional sewage treatment plants. Using flat panels, OriginOil says its photobioreactors (PBRs) can be incorporated into vertical surfaces, which would be perfect for the exterior of tall urban high-rises. “For every unit of power you get, you also get up to four units of heat,” OriginOil CEO Riggs Eckelberry told SmartPlanet. “Large apartment complexes can indeed be heated this way.”
Algae photo from Shutterstock
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