The new facility is dedicated to researching and testing aluminium used in curtain wall solutions in support of creating energy, emission and carbon neutral buildings in the Middle East.

Hilde Merete Aasheim, vice chairman of Qatalum and executive vice president of Hydro officially opened the Zero Energy and Emission Building Lab on 18 March in the presence of Qatalum CEO Tom Petter Johansen and the smelter’s deputy CEO, Khalid Laram.

Aasheim said that around 40% of the world’s energy consumption is related to operating buildings and is used to cool and heat both residential and commercial properties. “Hydro has delivered solutions in aluminium to a large number of energy-efficient and energy-positive buildings,” she said, adding that if, by using various devices, it was possible to lower the temperature by just 1 deg C, then a saving of between five and 10% was possible.

Hydro and Qatalum have already established a technology centre in Qatar within the grounds of the Qatar Science and Technology Park and used the occasion of the opening of the new research facility to organise a seminar that brought together leading speakers from the global aluminium industry.

During the seminar, Qatalum CEO Tom Petter Johansen spoke on the role of aluminium as part of the solution to climate change, echoing, in fact, Norsk Hydro’s CEO, Svein Richard Brandtzaeg, who told Aluminium International Today’s editor, Matthew Moggridge in an exclusive interview in the March/April edition, that aluminium was ‘climate-positive’.

Johansen 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 new building research lab consists of two independently operated test containers and a detached chillers station. According to Qatalum, “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.”