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Research results shared on passive energy efficiency in building

CSIR research has demonstrated the efficiency of a csir-minerschoicehighly insulated building with regard to indoor comfort and reduced heating and cooling loads. The new data, released recently, will support specifiers and architects when determining their insulation requirements

The CSIR, in conjunction with BASF, undertook an energy and thermal performance experiment on a house constructed on the CSIR Innovation Site in Pretoria using BASF materials. The study analysed the energy and thermal performance of a highly insulated demonstration house (the ‘BASF House’) through actual data collection and thermal modeling.

At the research results dissemination session held towards the end of August, BASF and the CSIR renewed their memorandum of understanding (MoU) for another two years.

“Temperature data collection took place between December 2011 and April 2013. The BASF house is based on the innovative technology and design of the CSIR’s low-income house of 40 m2, the same size as a standard, government-subsidised house,” notes Llewellyn van Wyk, CSIR researcher who leads this project.

The results indicate that the BASF house will require minimal heating in winter to maintain a comfortable indoor environment. Using the conversion rate of 1Gigajoule (Gj) equalling 277.77 kilowatts hour (kWh) and a kWh rate of R1.20, the BASF house will have an annual heating cost of R567. For comparative purposes the standard low-income, government-subsidised house constructed on the CSIR Innovation Site has a heating load of 12.28 Gj or 3 401 kWh with an annual heating cost of R4 082, while a South African National Standards 204 (SANS) compliant house has a heating load of 7.66 Gj or 2 127 kWh and an annual heating cost of R2 553.

As can be expected from a highly insulated building in summer the house will require cooling, but this can be achieved by opening windows and doors to allow natural ventilation.

While the experiment demonstrates the efficiency of a highly insulated building, the placement of insulation and effective ventilation is critical in terms of maximising these efficiencies. The optimal performance will be achieved through:

  1. Installing a roof with high reflective paint
  2. Placing 100 mm insulation on top of the ceiling
  3. Ensuring that the insulation is tightly fitted to avoid thermal bridging
  4. Ensuring effective ventilation to the rooms for the summer period
  5. Ventilating the attic.

“Space heating costs can be significantly reduced in a residential building such as this: An owner of a small house such as this could save close to 80% in heating per year as opposed to the SANS compliant household, and this inevitably contributes to a healthier environment when one considers other forms of heating,” says Van Wyk.

The aim was to measure absolute temperature performance of a standard building consisting of a roof, floor and walls using an alternative insulation technology based on Neopor®, a thermal insulation material by BASF. The house was also fitted with double glazed windows and doors.

“BASF engaged in this study with the CSIR to demonstrate the need for insulation in maintaining comfortable living temperatures. Although this test case was aimed at measuring the effectiveness of Neopor® in the southern hemisphere, BASF also has other energy efficient solutions for the building industry, which enhance the local drive towards energy efficient buildings,” says Dr Dieter Kovar, Managing Director of BASF Holdings South Africa.

The article was written by:Hilda Van Rooyen, CSIR Strategic Communication.

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Africa sets up a nuclear commission

The first of many steps towards establishing an African Commission
on Nuclear Energy, Afcone, was taken in Ethiopia in November.


Afcone would ensure compliance with the Pelindaba Treaty, and promote co-operation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in terms of Article 12, describing a Mechanism of Compliance. The first Conference of States Parties to the Treaty of Pelindaba, Africa's nuclear weapon free zone deal, was hosted on 4 November at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ramtane Lamamra, AU commissioner for Peace and Security, said the treaty was an important element of a broader strategy to implement the Common African Defence and Security Policy adopted in Libya in 2004. Therefore, the treaty is a crucial part of the overall peace and security architecture of the AU. The historic conference was attended by States Parties to the Treaty, including Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Nucleaer weapon states

Also in attendance were representatives from states that have signed, but not ratified the Treaty, including Egypt, DRC, Djibouti, Ghana, Namibia, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sudan and Uganda, as well as nuclear weapon states.
The First Conference endorsed the 1996 Cairo Declaration and agreed that South Africa would host the headquarters of Afcone. According to Lamamra, the body would have four key tasks;

* Create an African mechanism to ensure Parties' compliance with obligations under non proliferation requirements
* Ensure that Africa is protected from nuclear testing and dumping of nuclear materials
* Promote peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology
* Initiate outreach activities of States eligible to ratify the Treaty.

The conference elected 12 countries to represent 12 commissioners as members of Afcone, including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritius, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia.
The next conference of State Parties would be held within six months to decide on a structure, budget and the programme for Afcone.

* Amelia Broodryk and Noel Stott, Researcher and Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria

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