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FAIRE 2020

Plant-Based reactor

Maxime Jansens & Éléments Ingénieries

Prototype for the compost-powered heating of buildings

Prototype for the compost-powered heating of buildings


“Composting naturally generates heat, achieving temperatures of up to 60°C. Can this release of energy be put to use to lower our fossil fuel consumption?

Our aim is to apply this idea to the urban scale. Collective rental housing buildings are particularly suitable since their centralized heating systems make it possible to supply the buildings through a single connection. The project tacks on a pre-existing virtuous circle: composting is booming and many homes are already equipped with composters. By attaching an additional benefit to composting ­— the production of heat —, we strive to make it even more useful. The reactor takes the form of a container that is fitted with “rods” that collect the heat right at the heart of the compost pile. This energy is accumulated in a storage tank and then fed into a heating network, thus contributing to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

We are considering two categories of applications:
1/ On existing buildings, the module is connected to the heat distribution system with the aim of lowering fuel consumption.
Since the installation must be large to achieve an optimal level of performance, it will given a special architectural treatment in order to offer a ‘totem’ object that is both attractive and blends well in its overall context.
2/ Small annex buildings (coworking spaces, charity premises, garden greenhouse, and so on) can be heated exclusively using the reactor.
The reactor also becomes an educational instrument as it highlights the transformation of waste into compost and energy.”

Maxime Jansens
Maxime Jansens founded the architectural firm MJA in 2016, after collaborating with architectural firms such as Py Architectes, ANMA, and Joly & Loiret. His approach puts particular emphasis on the impact of buildings and their construction on the environment.
The studio is a strong believer in carbon-free architecture and tends to reduce its impact through frugal building design, the use of natural and biobased materials, as well as sustainable, bioclimatic and low-tech building design.

Éléments Ingénieries 
Founded in 2004 under the name RFR éléments, Élements Ingénieries is a recognized player in environment, energy and fluids. Being construction engineers, their projects are fully in line with the momentum for the ecological shift and carry the ambition to construct buildings that are economical in terms of materials and energy, technically reliable, and can be adapted to new contexts.