Origin Oil & Ennesys Use Paris Building Wastewater to Grow Algae for Energy

This post provides an interesting glimpse at a recently opened Paris building that generates energy from wastewater. The companies involved in this venture: Ennesys and Origin Oil.

OriginOil and its energy systems partner Ennesys unveiled this pilot project at the high-rise La Défense area in Paris, which has 37.7 million sq ft of office space, where they are fusing two essential functions of the smart buildings of the future: energy generation and wastewater clean-up. They have developed a solution that converts wastewater from commercial buildings into energy.

Here’s a short video

Jerry Schranz, part of the public relations team, informed me this system takes wastewater from the building (that is derived from bathroom waste water, kitchen water, etc.). This water is then used to grow algae, which is nourished by wastewater. The Algae Appliance invented by OriginOil scientists, processes the water and algae to produce methane, which is then used to power the building. Importantly, the flat panel bioreactors (where the algae grows) can be used on vertical surfaces, so skyscrapers are a huge area of opportunity for this type of energy production.

While the French government has mandated that new commercial buildings must produce more clean energy than they consume and purify or recycle water, OriginOil views these conditions as laying favorable ground for its technologies to be broadly adopted.

Congratulations to Ennesys and Riggs Eckelberry, Origin Oil’s CEO, on this demonstration of sustainable energy.

Photos: Ennesys grand opening

About the Author

Writer, documentary producer, and director. Meyers is a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.
  • Kstor

    The idea of growing algae on buildings using wastewater is not new. As a matter of fact, it originates from the French architect studio X-TU back in 2008 (and they have a patent on it), which will soon deliver the first prototypes of their biofacade concept in cooperation with a world-class French public laboratory on microalgae controlled cultures (see recent press releases and articles in French about it).
    The problem here is more what Ennesys tries to achieve, when they promise to cover 80% of the building’s energy needs thanks to microalgae productivities of 150T/ha (see many other articles and their press releases).
    Those figures are just not correct, as any microalgae specialist will immediately notice. These kinds of productivity are theorical, and can only be achieved in lab conditions with a 12 h direct flow of photons and constant temperature, pH, nutriments, carbon inputs, etc… In outdoor conditions, the maximum productivity in Paris would be around 30 T/ha with the most advanced intensified PBRs – which they do not have – as a scientific article clearly demonstrate: “Theoretical Investigation of Biomass Productivities Achievable in Solar Rectangular Photobioreactors for the Cyanobacterium Arthrospira platensis”.
    It would be wise for Ennesys, and especially for their partners and investors, to “land on earth” and announce more realistic figures- unless they want to nourrish a greentech bubble…

  • Thanks for providing this information. We will publish on the GBE page.

  • JL Kindler

    There is abundant scientific – both private and public – literature confirming the figures demonstrated a few decades ago by NREL / DOE in the US showing average yields in the range of 30 dry g/m2/day in outdoor facilities, not even using advanced intensified PBR’s (just type “algae yield per acre” in any search engine). Your assertions are based on theories and furthermore on assumptions on our system’s configuration. Our system’s performance is being measured with our real size, outdoor demonstrator.

    As for the reference you mention, I do agree that if we were to try to grow Arthrospira Platensis (more widely known as Spirulina) in Paris, we probably would have such a yield. But who would try to grow a cyanobacteria whose comfort zone is in the 37°C range in such conditions ?

    Nevertheless, your message underlines our technological advance and we thank you for this involuntary contribution.

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