Shanghai Expo’s Purple Solar Powered Pavilion

Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China has kicked off and is expected to draw 70 million visitors over its duration. With a theme of "Better City, Better Life", it aims to explore the full potential of urban life in the 21st century and how to create an eco-friendly society.

Renewable energy features heavily at the Expo, with some very interesting implementations – such as Japan’s purple solar powered pavilion. Its Chinese nickname is  Zi Can Dao, meaning “purple silkworm island.”

Covering approximately 3,900 metres squared, it features the world’s first pillow membrane with built-in amorphous solar cells. The test solar power system has a generation output of  20–30 kW a day. Hybrid wind turbines are also used at the site to help generate power for use in the building.

Other energy efficiency features include the use of LED and organic EL lighting, heat pumps, "ecotubes" under the floor of the building that reduce temperatures by around 3 degrees Celsius and  transpiration cooling systems that spray a fine mist of collected rainwater on the roof.

The ecotube system also allows sunlight into the building and the cooled floor also increases the chimney effect of the tubes, reducing the air conditioning load within the Pavilion by drawing in air

Total building weight was reduced with steel construction and lightweight membrane systems that reduced environmental impact of construction by minimising ground alteration as it was built on top of the soft ground without the need for piles.

Exhibitions within the pavilion include a look at how technology is being used to create “zero-emission towns" in Japan.