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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Zero Energy Tower

Burj Al-Taqa: Middle Eastern Zero-energy Tower

The recent building boom in the Middle East has given rise to some of the world’s most extravagant and innovative buildings. The latest proposed tower to sprout up among the ever-changing skyline is the Burj Al-Taqa Energy Tower for the Middle East.

Designed by Eckhard Gerber and cutting a 322 meter high silhouette, this commercial high rise will produce zero emissions and use sun, wind and water to create all of its own energy. The 68-story structure will use natural air conditioning based on Iranian wind towers which draws wind in and down to cool interiors. Gerber’s cylindrical design uses this principal to ventilate the tower.

A central atrium will provide fresh air inflow. The incoming air will be pre-cooled with seawater, dispersed throughout the building and ventilated through a double-skin glass façade. Tubing throughout the ceilings will run cool water for additional radiant thermal comfort. Solar gain control is dependent on a new type of vacuum glazing that is still in development but expected to be over 60% more efficient than current technology.
A rotating solar shield covering one sixth of the building circumference will provide shade at the highest incidences and use an integrated photovoltaic array to capture the sun’s energy for electricity. And yes, that is a wind turbine on top. The Darrieus-type rotor, together with two more roof-mounted photovoltaic arrays and a floating array in the nearby sea, will equip the Burj Al-Taqa to meet its energy needs. Any excess electricity will applied to generating more energy – extracting hydrogen from seawater for fuel cells.

Gerber’s ambitious projections for the Burj Al-Taqa depend on unproven techniques and untested materials. However, if the Energy Tower for the Middle East lives up to expectations, it will require 60% less energy than comparable buildings, produce no CO2 emissions and, from a lofty height at number 22 on the list of the world’s tallest buildings, can boast complete independence from non-renewable energy. Read more Simon Turner

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