Living on a houseboat or floating home has always been a dream of mine, and this home, proposed in Germany, comes very close to what that dream home would look like. It’s beautiful to look at, and also completely self-sufficient, capable of creating its own power, water, and heat. The house is still in the planning stages, and is called the Lusation autartec project. The first prototype will be built on Lake Geierswalde in the Lusatian Lake District.
The two-story floating home will be built atop a steel pontoon measuring 43 x 43 ft (13 x 13 m). The ground floor of the home will measure 807 sq ft (75 sq m), while the first floor will have a living area of 365 sq ft (34 sq m). There will also be a 161 sq ft (15 sq m) deck running around the perimeter of the home. In order to make it self-sufficient they had to find innovative, and primarily light solutions to avoid loading the pontoon with excessive weight.
The heating needs will be taken care of via a fireplace, which will feature a supersaturated solution of salt hydrates to soak up heat from the flames. The designers claim that after this solution is heated in a special tub, which is placed over the fire, and liquefies, it is capable of holding in the heat practically indefinitely. The system works similarly to a chemical hand warmer, since the solution can be made to crystallize via a radio-based technology, which releases the heat on command. There is also a back up zeolith thermal storage unit, which is located inside the pontoon. During the summer, the zeolith minerals dry out, while in winter, by circulating moist air through the pontoons an exothermic reaction occurs which releases further heat.
The home will also feature a so-called adiabatic cooling system, which doesn’t require any energy and is based on the principle of evaporative cooling. Basically, moistening a side of the house will work to draw heat out as this moisture evaporates. All the needed power will be provided by solar panels built into the actual structure of the home. The energy produced will be stored in lithium polymer batteries hidden away inside the stairs.
The home will also be off-the-grid in terms of water needs. This will be achieved by means of a closed loop system. The biological reprocessing system will be based on ceramics, photocatalysis, electrochemistry, and filtration. The entire system will be small enough to fit into the pontoon, but robust enough to handle all the water purifying needs.
This is definitely an innovative approach to taking a home off the grid, and it will be interesting to see how well it performs in practice. The first of these homes will be completed in 2017, so we have a bit of a wait for an answer to that question.