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Energy management at Melbourne Airport

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AN important part of operating a busy international airport is efficient energy management. As a part of their energy management program, Melbourne Airport invested in an extensive trial of SkyCool Pty Ltd ’s products for the "E Concourse", otherwise known as the Virgin Terminal.

Applying SkyCool to the 5,500m² roof the airport sought dual benefits: a reduction in the energy demands of the air conditioning and the water-resistant properties of the coating to extend the roof's life by at least another 10 years.

SkyCool is applied by airless spray systems. Using spray processes in the open near operating aircraft is a highly demanding environment. The airport imposed very stringent controls on the operation, including a pre-application test on a safe part of the roof to ensure that any spray drift from the applicator's gun would not pose a risk to air-side traffic. SkyCool, being a water-borne high-solids based acrylic polymer, demonstrated that it has a very low amount of material dispersion due to drift, and that any wind carried material dries within three to four metres from the spray nozzle, rendering it a very safe material in this highly sensitive environment.

An important additional observation that the airport authorities were able to make from this test was that the outside roof temperatures of the SkyCool test-coated area was around 32ºC cooler than the normal roof surface on a moderately warm day, translating into a reduction in radiated heat entering the below roof space, thereby providing significant improvement in the air conditioning energy management.

The trial application was completed in March 2005. By the middle of the next summer, the Airport's energy management monitoring systems had detected sufficient reduction on air conditioning power consumption, that they ordered the application of SkyCool to most of the main terminal and the international terminal roofs - an additional 20,000 square metres.

Their deadline for this project was the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. The application was completed within time and budget by the end of February, 2006; the highly successful games commenced two weeks later.

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