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With market and regulatory pressure on the construction industry to deliver efficient and sustainable buildings, our global R&D division is developing...

Engineering low-carbon solutions for buildings

With market and regulatory pressure on the construction industry to deliver efficient and sustainable buildings, our global R&D division is developing a range of innovative solutions that will help to make buildings safer, stronger and more sustainable. A prime focus is to contribute to the development of zero-energy or even positive-energy buildings. Rather than simply providing steel components, we take a holistic approach, encompassing a variety of techniques. These range from building envelope systems offering high levels of insulation to solar roofing products.

Photovoltaic (PV) steel roof products are being developed within the PHOSTER project, co-financed by the EU Life + programme. Using innovative and greener manufacturing processes, and an eco-design engineering approach, the PHOSTER project has developed a highly efficient, photovoltaic roofing element that is integrated into the building fabric. This means that, for the time, steel will not only serve as an envelope for the building ‒ it will also actively generate energy.

This technology endows steel with new properties, using a semi-conductor coating based on thin layers – so-called ‘second generation’ photovoltaics – to produce electricity from solar radiation. This represents a real technological breakthrough for the construction industry.

The project was introduced to help the market evolve towards a model that directly integrates renewable energy sources into buildings. And by doing so, we intend to strongly contribute to the expansion and the promotion of solar energy.

A further technology, known as SolarWall®, is being developed as a result of a partnership between ArcelorMittal and a world leader in solar air heating, Conserval Engineering. This technology uses solar radiation to heat buildings, while reducing a building’s heating costs by up to 50%.

The new technology is made entirely from steel and is integrated into the building itself. The system is installed as an additional ‘skin’ to a building to create an air cavity. It uses solar radiation to deliver naturally-warmed air into the building, providing a source of renewable heat.

SolarWall® is made up of a pre-coated steel which allows high levels of heat absorption and resistance to corrosion. Once installed, the system requires virtually no maintenance over its 30+-year lifespan, helping reduce costs further.

This new technology will be produced by ArcelorMittal Construction France, for SolarWall Europe, and is set to make a major contribution to meeting the EU’s 2020 energy targets that aim to increase by 20% the use of renewable energy.

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