Architecture students design eco-friendly home for disaster-struck areas, using hydrogen as prime energy source. ‘Hydrogen no longer dangerous to use’ says top architect

Billie Frenkel
Published: 11.02.12

Students at the Ariel Academic Center were requested to create a compact, mobile ecological home, to be used in disaster-struck areas and provide its tenants with the full amenities, without using electricity.

The students ended up designing a unique ecological home, based on hydrogen – which is considered to be one of the most dangerous, volatile gases there are.

Hydrogen is vastly used for industrial purposes, but since the 1936 Zeppelin tragedy in Germany, that claimed the lives of 36 people, it is hardly ever used as a primary energy source. It is however, considered to be a “clean” gas that does not harm the environment.

“As hydrogen is volatile, it was impossible to use until recently,” said architect Matithyahu Avsalomov of the Ariel Academic Center.

“However, hydrogen storage technology have massively progressed in recent years, making usage possible.”

The ecological structure took four months to build. It includes a kitchenette, a living room and a bedroom. Its uniqueness lies with its ability to independently produce energy, using no more that sunlight and a water source.

Avsalomov explained that hydrogen explodes only under certain pressure, therefore the main danger is in its storage. This danger no longer exists due to a special safety mechanism.

“Hydrogen is the easiest and cleanest source of energy,” he added, “just as oil is being used although being explosive, so can the hydrogen be used. It’s only a matter of the right storage.”

The house (Photo: Mati Avshalomov Architects)

The design of the eco-homes as a temporary yet valid solution for disaster-struke areas included numerous other challenges, including the requirements of easy transportation and low costs.

While eco-structures are commonly believed to be over-priced, Avsalomov said they managed to decrease costs to NIS 600 (roughly $150) per square meter, compared to traditional construction.

“We proved eco-structure can be cheaper… we can easily use this method to build whole neighborhoods,” Avsalomov said.

Avsalomov explained that the students used a new eco-perception through which the structure can be dissembled and reused. They also used eco-friendly materials, including glass and recycled fabrics, which provide a thermo solution and eliminate the need to use air conditioning.

“My goal is to have these kinds of projects initially provide concrete solution to bursting needs, then to have full-sized eco-friendly homes… so that anyone can purchase an eco-home, and move it from one place to another, while helping to save the environment.” Avsalomov concluded.,7340,L-4297926,00.html