Neumayer III, Antarctica

Neumayer III, Antarctica

Ventilation system from AL-KO supplies Antarctic research station Neumayer III

Full technology as „plug & play“ solution encased in containers before transportation

After the official opening at the end of February, which made headlines worldwide, calm has returned to the Antarctic research station „Neumayer III“. The last laboratories are being set up, the residents are getting themselves and their home ready for the coming long and cold winter months. Everything is going to plan – just like the AL-KO ventilation system, which has successfully passed its baptism of fire at the South Pole. The complex air conditioning technology, which was completely prefabricated at the Jettingen-Scheppach production site in individual modules as a „plug & play“ solution, has fulfilled all expectations. And still it performs its role without incident and in the most adverse outside conditions.


In providing ventilation and air conditioning for the „Neumayer III“ of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), the particular challenges for the experts from AL-KO were in terms of efficiency, the use of existing thermal waste heat from already heated room units and especially with regard to the compact design. The specification: With outside temperatures falling as low as –48 degrees Celsius, a constant 22 degrees Celsius was to be maintained inside the station. Furthermore, in the protective tent that surrounds the entire station, a temperature level of at least 5 degrees Celsius was required in order to keep the building free of frost.


All components which were necessary to complete turnkey construction of the steel structure were brought together in Bremerhaven. The spectrum ranged from working and living spaces and laboratories to the technical equipment. The corresponding tools and equipment for connection and installation work were packed accordingly in containers – each about six metres long and two metres wide. Thus a total of around 120 containers were assembled, which were then transported by snowcats over the permanent ice to the new site of the „Neumayer III“. This construction kit concept requires self-contained container concepts or conditionally plug-in-ready delivery. A total of six central ventilation and air conditioning units were planned to supply the building, where some special works were necessary: The order included „encasing“ the entire central air conditioning system in containers and to supply the system ex works ready for delivery as well as plug-in-ready. To achieve this, the containers in which the central air conditioning system was to be transported were delivered to the Jettingen-Scheppach production site. The solution: The air conditioning was designed so that it essentially consists of a 'sheath' air conditioning unit, two convection units, two devices to provide air conditioning to the living rooms and laboratories, and one air conditioning unit with a flat design for workshop spaces.


The task for AL-KO was also to ensure that the exhaust air from already heated building units is used carefully to bring all parts of the building to the predetermined temperature level with minimal primary energy use. For example, the existing thermal energy from the „diesel room“ should be used in part for heating the other rooms and the outer shell over the station. Because the supply air and exhaust air units were arranged one above the other in the container to provide air conditioning for the living spaces and laboratories, energy could be recovered through a sorption rotor. Again, the proviso was to use the thermal energy as much as possible. This was achieved by the fans, which consistently boast a system efficiency of around 90 per cent. And not only that: For a conducive ambient climate in the living and working spaces, it was also necessary to install a contact humidifier unit in the supply air system – with the help of the sorption rotor, more energy is saved for humidification by feeding a portion of the existing humidity from the exhaust air into the supply air.


The new „Neumayer III“ station is designed to last around 30 years. Operation beyond this period will be difficult to achieve despite sophisticated hydraulics due to the mass of snow and ice. After the period of use, the individual containers will be dismantled in reverse order as it were and will thus disappear from Antarctica without a trace.






Photographs: Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven