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IAAC announces breakthroughs in passive cooling and ventilation

August 24th, 2017 / By: / EcoNote

Photo: Montakan IAAC.

The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) has developed a series of materials and advanced systems for passive cooling and ventilation, which allow reducing indoor temperatures by up to 5 degrees and air conditioner use by more than 25 percent. These alternatives help to sharply decrease hot indoor temperatures in locations where the weather is extremely warm.

IAAC students from the Digital Matter Intelligent Constructions studio, led by Academic Director Areti Markopoulou, have investigated the passive air conditioning of spaces using new materials that mimic organic processes, as well as adaptive structures or robotic systems that help regulate indoor temperatures and create microclimates.

Five alternatives have been developed, based on bioclimatic architecture:  Breathing Skin, Hydroceramics, Hydromembrane, Morphluid and Soft Robotics projects.
Systems such as Hydroceramics, Breathing Skin or Hydromembrane involve a series of facades that act as a second skin for buildings and simulate a living organism by perspiring water to regulate high temperatures. Hydroceramics is a façade system made of clay panels and hydrogel able to cool a building space up to 5 degrees. Hydrogel capsules have a capacity to absorb up to 500 times their own volume in water in order to create a construction system that can “breath” through evaporation and perspiration.

Hydromembrane and Breathing Skin, unlike the Hydroceramics system, are based on materials composed of thin membranes and intelligent fabrics acting as a second “breathing” skin for buildings, which simultaneously can self-regulate humidity as well as indoor and outdoor climates.

All systems use materials with a high water absorption capacity, which is subsequently released by evaporation to create a cooling effect in warm environments. For instance, Breathing Skin absorbs up to 300 times its own volume in water in a short period of time by using sodium polyacrylate, a superabsorbent polymer.

Additional systems designed at IAAC focus on structures and applied robotics within the new and advanced bioclimatic architecture field. Morphluid or Soft Robotics (SORO) are examples of passive shading systems which, by using living roofs, control the quantity of light and heat entering indoor spaces.