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Biomimetic fans put indoor events back on agenda

The Berlin Motorwerk (motor plant) has installed an improved ventilation solution said to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, thanks to biomimetic fans from fan manufacturer Ziehl-Abegg

The air quality must be high and the noise level of the fans very low in order to ensure that events can be staged safely during times of COVID-19 – that’s something both Peter Fenkl of Ziehl-Abegg (left) and Dr Michael Gordon of Motorwerk (right) both agree on

The Berlin Motorwerk hosts premier events such as Germany’s Next Top Model while new car presentations by Porsche and Daimler have also been staged there.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Motorwerk has primarily staged streaming events but because of the current conditions, the number ofparticipants at events has been very small. The first event was held in August 2020 with more than 200 guests. Normally, the Motorwerk can stage meetings or events for more than 1,000 people.

Chief executive Dr Michael Gordon says: “The focus now is on social distancing, hygiene rules and, in particular, air quality. In order to massively reduce the risk of coronavirus infections from aerosols, we are now able to achieve an enormous increase in the air quality without any disruptive noise.”

“In the latest event, 250 people spent several hours in the Motorwerk. Although the fans were operating in the immediate vicinity of the guests, they could not be heard.

Peter Fenkl, chief executive of the motor and fan manufacturer Ziehl-Abegg says: “The latest generation of biomimetic fans is now operating in the Motorwerk. It has been a special challenge and, at the same time, an honour, to be involved in the ventilation system in the halls. 

'Using designs inspired by nature, such as the owl in flight, we have enhanced the fans to achieve the optimum level in terms of acoustics,” Mr Fenkl says.

Control via an app on smart phone or tablet

In the latest event, CO2 sensors monitored the air quality and regulated the fans. The ceiling fans provided the air circulation. For the duration of the event, the CO2 level in the indoor air was maintained at approximately 530ppm.

“That equates to almost the same as fresh air,” says Dr Gordon, referring to a study by the TU Berlin, which considers low CO2 values to be harmless (Risk assessment by the TU Berlin: handle/11303/11477). The entire system is programmed to be self-regulating but can also be operated manually. Control and monitoring are carried out via an app on a smart phone, tablet or PC.

“Design and structural implementation were not easy,” recalls Dr Gordon. This is because the building is a listed historical site. Collaboration between the Monument Protection Authority, the Wei?ensee Engineering Consortium and Ziehl-Abegg allowed for the development of a building technology concept that does not change the interior or exterior view of the building whilst at the same time being very dynamic.

The air is replaced completely twice an hour

The ventilation system consists of the following components: eight axial fans from Ziehl-Abegg (ZN063-ZIL. DG. V7P2), four HVLS ceiling fans (high volume low speed), eight CO2 sensors and a standardised IP-based home control system from LOxone with control software from Smartflix.

The volume of air in the hall is approximately 16,500 cubic metres. Each of Ziehl-Abegg’s built-in axial fans moves up to 6,000 cubic metres of air per hour. Three fans are used for suction and five for the inlet air. This allows the entire air content of the large building to be completely replaced up to twice an hour.

8 October 2020


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