8/09/2011

Adaptive Re-use Is An Understatement.

In the small Italian town of Sant'Elpidio a Mare, officials are imagining a more productive and innovative use of their existing network of water towers.  The towers currently have considerable surface area which can be modified to increase their functions.  The termed, Technological re-use of the towers will hopefully serve as a successful alternative for supplying renewable energy to urban areas.


Architects, LED Architecture Studio, and city officials sought out to seek alternatives to consuming agricultural areas and protected lands for photovoltaic system installation.  Photovoltaic systems built on the ground represent about 44 percent of the whole photovoltaic power in Italy, providing 2,900 MW of power.  If all the "non-integrated" systems were built on farmland, it would consume 3,200 hectares (approximately 4,500 football fields) from agricultural production.  For this reason it is necessary to ensure that renewable energy systems are installed exclusively in urban areas with responsible integration.




The project proposes re-shaping the water towers into an energetic totem, providing not only water distribution but also a source of clean energy.  Energy will be pulled from the Sun from 240 square meters of photovoltaic panels, by the Wind through eight micro Aeolian generators, and by hydrogen generated by eight silos containing thermopile seaweeds plunged into 250,000 liters of water.  The production of hydrogen through the bio-electrolysis  of seaweeds is one of the most innovative systems of clean energy supply.






The process satisfies two fundamental requirements: 1) the direct extraction of hydrogen from the water through photosynthesis at solar energy expense. 2) the production of pure H2 without any kind of contamination or contact with any dangerous products.  Recent studies have shown that 10 liters of seaweed growing can produce 1-2 liters of pure H2 each day.  This is the amount of energy necessary to travel 100 kilometers with a car).   The system can produce about 25,000 liters of hydrogen per day.