BubbleZERO-design, construction and operation of a transportable research laboratory for low exergy building system evaluation in the tropics

Marcel Bruelisauer, Kian Wee Chen, Rupesh Iyengar, Hansjürg Leibundgut, Cheng Li, Mo Li, Matthias Mast, Forrest Meggers, Clayton Miller, Dino Rossi, Esmail M. Saber, Arno Schlueter, Kwok Wai Tham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We present the design, construction and operation of a novel building systems laboratory, the BubbleZERO-Zero Emission Research Operation. Our objective was to design a space to evaluate the performance of Swiss-developed low exergy building systems in the tropical climate of Singapore using an integrated design approach. The method we employed for evaluation in the tropics was to design and build a test bed out of the shipping containers that transported the prototype low exergy systems from Switzerland to Singapore. This approach resulted in a novel laboratory environment containing radiant cooling panels and decentralized air supply, along with a self-shading, inflated "bubble" skin, experimental low emissivity (LowE) glazing, LED lighting, wireless sensors and distributed control. The laboratory evaluates and demonstrates for the first time in Singapore an integrated high-temperature cooling system with separate demand-controlled ventilation adapted for the tropics. It is a functional lab testing system in real tropical conditions. As such, the results showing the ability to mitigate the risk of condensation by maintaining a dew point below 18 °C by the separate decentralized ventilation are significant and necessary for potential future implementation in buildings. In addition, the control system provides new proof of concept for distributed wireless sensors and control for reliable automation of the systems. These key results are presented along with the integrated design process and real-life tropical operation of the laboratory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4551-4571
Number of pages21
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Buildings
  • Distributed systems
  • Energy efficiency
  • Exergy
  • Laboratory
  • Prototype
  • Radiant cooling
  • Tropical climate
  • Zero emission


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