Sahara sun from the laboratory

ETH Zurich has put an artificial sun into operation. In the room of a new laboratory, the sun shines at the push of a button, just as it does at midday in the Sahara or in January in Berlin.

the ETH lab with an artificial sun consisting of 875 LED chips

Arno Schlueter, Professor of Architecture and Building Systems, said that this could be used in experiments to test how efficient elements such as a façade or building technology are under different climatic conditions.

The centrepiece of the "Zero Carbon Building Systems Lab", the artificial sun, consists of 875 LED chips. These emit light in various solar spectra, from visible light to the infrared range. The artificial sun is attached to a swivelling arm, which allows it to imitate the path of the sun. "We can recreate solar radiation from almost anywhere in the world, along with humidity and temperature," said Schlueter.

Optimising energy consumption

The walls, floors and ceilings of the laboratory can be replaced with prototypes. This allows them to be tested on site and quickly developed further. The researchers want to use them, for example, to create façades that can react to the sun - "which, for example, let in as much solar radiation and therefore heat as possible in winter, but block the solar radiation in summer," explained Schlueter.

This could optimise the energy balance, as less heating would be required in winter and less cooling in summer.

Written by: sda

Photos: Keystone/Michael Buholzer

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