First zero-emission polar station
71°57’ S/23°20’ E – these are the coordinates of the Belgian research station “Princess Elisabeth”, which went into service in the eastern Antarctic in February 2009. As the first building construction on the sixth continent, the aim is for zero emissions from ongoing operations.
The electricity for the polar station comes from nine wind-power installations, each nine metres high, located close to the station, and 380 m2 of photovoltaic panels, some integrated into the building. A further 24 m2 of solar-thermal panels deliver heat for space heating and hot water for the 48 occupants and for a snow-melting system which supplies the building with drinking water. Two bioreactors process 100 per cent of the waste water, recycling 75 per cent of it.
With outside temperatures regularly dropping below minus 50°C, the building envelope has to meet the toughest requirements. The panels in the walls of the Princess Elisabeth station are 60 cm thick. Heat but also moisture is harvested from the waste air by the ventilation system – an important criterion in indoor comfort in the cold, dry air of the Antarctic.