BubbleZERO laboratory



The BubbleZERO is the laboratory of the Low Exergy research module at FCL that allows to test novel systems for cooling, dehumidification and ventilation and their control under real life ambient and operating conditions in Singapore.



The original objective was to design a space to evaluate the performance of low exergy building systems developed in Switzerland in the tropical climate of Singapore. Low exergy (LowEx) systems optimize supply temperatures to maximize performance. The basic systems were installed at ETH Zurich and shipped and erected as a laboratory in Singapore. This approach resulted in a novel laboratory environment containing hydronic radiant cooling panels and decentralized air supply units, along with a self-shading, inflated “Bubble” skin, experimental low emissivity (LowE) glazing, LED lighting, wireless sensors and distributed control (Bruelisauer et al. 2013).


The BubbleZERO laboratory is used by the PhD students of the Low Exergy research module for measurements, testing of new components and for the evaluation of simulation models. In addition, it serves as a showroom for LowEx technology in Singapore.


The setup allows to study the effectiveness and performance of a setup that covers the sensible and latent part (dehumidification) of the cooling load with different systems. Air is dehumidified in decentralized ventilation units. Sensible cooling is provided by a hydronic radiant system that can be operated with higher supply temperatures than required for dehumidification. A chiller’s performance is directly related to the temperature it has to supply and the adjustment of the supply temperature to the actual demand increases the overall performance of the setup and thereby reduces the electricity consumption of the cooling system. It is the first time that this technology has been combined and installed in such a way not just for Singapore but also for the whole of Asia.


A wireless sensor network has been developed that allows for a distributed sensing and control of the technical systems (Li et al. 2013). It allows to locally control condensation and energy consumption thereby increasing accuracy and performance of the system.


The operation of the laboratory has shown the feasibility of the technology in a tropic climate (Iyengar et al. 2013). Initial results from the operation have shown that humidity is controlled effectively utilizing a new cooling coil setup within the decentralized ventilation units (Saber et al. 2013) and that the radiant panel system operating in conjunction with wireless sensors and distributed control reduces the risk of condensation with varying indoor conditions.





M1 BubbleZERO FCL Sept 4_184

M1 BubbleZERO FCL Sept 4_186

M1 BubbleZERO FCL Sept 4_187

BubbleZERO panel temperature

BubbleZERO panel temperature

BubbleZERO RadiantCooling

BubbleZERO RadiantCooling

BubbleZERO Temperature and Velocity Contours

BubbleZERO Temperature and Velocity Contours


The BubbleZERO laboratory with the temporary facade at its new location on the UWC campus.