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Qatalum and Hydro, the Norwegian aluminum producer, have unveiled Hydro’s newly established facility dedicated to researching and testing aluminum used in curtain wall solutions in support of creating energy, emission and carbon neutral buildings in the Middle East.

The Zero Energy and Emission Building lab is located on site at the Qatalum smelter and was officially opened on 18 March 2013 by Hilde Merete Aasheim, the Vice Chairman of Qatalum and the Executive Vice President of Hydro. Also present were Qatalum CEO, Tom Petter Johansen, and Qatalum DCEO, Khalid Laram.

Speaking at this event, Hilde M Aasheim said:

‘Today, around 40% of the world’s energy consumption is related to operate buildings, especially to cooling and heating of the buildings we work and live in. Hydro has delivered solutions in aluminum to a large number of energy-efficient and energy-positive buildings. If by using various devices the temperature inside the room  can be  lowered by 1 deg C, then a saving of 5-10% in terms of energy used for air conditioning  can be realized.. Delivering such solutions requires high competence, and the solutions will to a large degree depend on the climate where you are.’

The inauguration ceremony continued at Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), where Hydro and Qatalum have established a Technology Centre. A seminar was organised at QSTP with key speakers from the Aluminium Industry.

Underscoring the importance of Hydro and Qatalum in driving research and bringing international best practice to the region, the opening speaker, Dr Chris Devadas, Head of the Technology Centre, argued that Hydro Technology Centre ‘will build up competence and cooperation with other institutions in Qatar in important areas that impact the global climate’ and added:

‘Research will be conducted to make assessments of the impact of the Middle East Climate on Building Envelopes and how building envelopes can be developed to influence the long term sustainability of buildings. The Zero Energy Emission facilities will enable us to provide environmentally sustainable products and knowledge on options for building design and layout. It will allow us to investigate room conditions, like indoor air temperature, relative indoor air humidity and air velocity and, out of the measured data we can then determine the energy consumption of a building using the tested curtain wall solution.’

CEO
Qatalum’s CEO Tom Petter Johansen

Qatalum’s CEO, Tom Petter Johansen, made a presentation on the role of aluminum as a part of the solution to climate change and said:

‘A zero energy building is a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually. While no such building currently exists in Qatar, the potential to achieve this is great.

The zero-energy goal is becoming more practical as the costs of alternative energy technologies decrease and the costs of traditional fossil fuels increase. This is supported by the progress made in new energy and construction technologies and techniques, as well as vastly improved research, which collects precise energy performance data on traditional and experimental buildings and provides performance parameters for advanced computer models to predict the efficacy of engineering designs.’

Jean-Marc Luvisutto, General Manager Technical Middle East, said:

‘The aim of The Zero Energy and Emission Neutral Building is to increase knowledge on the use of different curtain wall solutions in the Middle East, where the potential for energy savings in buildings is untapped.’

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The Zero Energy and Emission Building Research Laboratory consist of two independently operated test containers and a detached chillers station. Each of the two test containers has two test chambers embedded, which represent a single office room. In the area of the building envelope the test containers have an opening allowing the installation of different curtain wall solutions. Each test chamber itself can be individually cooled, artificially lighted, mechanically and naturally ventilated.

The research lab can analyse four different curtain wall solutions in parallel allowing mainly qualitative comparison between the options. In addition, the facility is equipped with specialist equipment to test solar thermal and photovoltaic applications. It is expected to operate for several years, during which test data will be collected and analysed.