Waste-Biogas-Energy Pavilion

Milan Expo 2015, Italy

The Waste-Biogas-Energy Pavilion was conceptualized with the Milan Expo theme in mind; Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. The pavilion employs the principles of permaculture to achieve a symbiosis between food and energy production. Elements of the system are viewed in relation to each other, where the outputs of one process become the inputs of another. The goal is to close cycles. Work is minimized, waste becomes a resource, and productivity and efficiency increase.

Central to this system is an innovative Combined Heat & Power (CHP) engine that consumes unrefined biogas which is captured and used on site. This eliminates the need to transport the gas to a refining facility for additional processing. The system makes use of the natural decomposition of organic waste, producing gas composed of up to 70% methane, which has 23 times the greenhouse effect as carbon dioxide (CO2).

The form of the pavilion is representative of a contained gas; a bubble. The juxtaposition of sky, represented by glass, and earth, represented by the green areas of the roof, acknowledges the choice we make with regard to the greenhouse gases we produce. Do we release them into the atmosphere, or capture and make use of them on earth? The strips of land and glass are interwoven, symbolizing the integration of technology and ecology for the production of resources and the protection of the environment.

Material and energy exchanges are tightly integrated with other pavilions in the master plan. Organic waste is collected from agricultural exhibits, food kiosks, and waste bins for fermentation. Captured biogas is fed to a large bladder and is used to produce the energy distributed throughout the expo. Post-fermentation organic waste is redistributed as compost to agricultural exhibits on site.