Time to say goodbye to the frozen cabbages for winterovers. Thanks to PLEXIGLAS® Alltop, expeditioners in Great Wall Research Station in Antarctica can finally grow fresh vegetables, right in their own greenhouse in the extremely cold region.
Antarctica is known to be the coldest region on earth with an average annual temperature of -40 to -50 ºC. It also boasts colossal blizzards, and 55 mph wind is a commonplace. The expeditioners in Great Wall Research Station used to live on the supply transported by the Xue Long Polar Research Ship. In winter, when the station was cut off from resupply flights, they could only live with limited kinds of frozen vegetables like cabbages. Now that the first light-transmitting greenhouse in Antarctica was successfully built in the station, the fresh vegetables on wish list have become a reality.
The material to build a greenhouse must withstand extreme weather conditions which are typical for the extremely cold Antarctica. After a two-year study conducted by Polar Research Institute of China and Shanghai Dushi Green Engineering Co., Ltd, PLEXIGLAS® Alltop was chosen to be the covering material of the greenhouse due to its high light-transmission and anti-aging features. Mr. Le Lu, engineer from Shanghai Dushi who went to the Great Wall Station for greenhouse construction, expressed his satisfaction over PLEXIGLAS® Alltop:”Among all the materials we researched, PLEXIGLAS® Alltop has proven to be most suitable as covering materials for greenhouses in the extremely cold Antarctica.” The 30 sqm greenhouse is the first of its kind in Antarctica and the use of 600 sqm of 16mm thickness PLEXIGLAS® Alltop ensures healthy growth of the plants.
The smallest sunbeam
Photosynthesis is essential for plants growth. According to gardener’s empirical data, one percent more light means one percent more growth. Antarctica is positioned in 90º 00' S latitude which results in limited sunlight. Not to mention that the thick ice sheet in most parts of the continent will reflect the already insufficient sunlight. Enough light transmission has to be taken into account when a greenhouse is to be built in Antarctica.
With a high light-transmission of 91%, PLEXIGLAS® Alltop makes sure that the plants receives sufficient natural sunlight, even the smallest beam. In addition, the multi-skin sheets ensure good insulation and UV transparency to allow plants to grow under conditions as natural as possible.
Against the wind
Antarctica is notorious for strong winds which could easily reach Scale 10 on a normal day. The highest wind speed recorded was at Antarctica. The reputation for being the windiest continent on earth is well-earned. In order to stand still against the frequent blizzards in the region, it sets high requirements for the greenhouse materials. PLEXIGLAS® Alltop’s wind-resistant feature fits in here. In collaboration with Evonik, Shanghai Dushi developed a unique aluminum profile to match the geometry of the PLEXIGLAS® Alltop to reinforce the construction. Upon confirmation of the project feasibility in 2014, Shanghai Dushi built a same scale greenhouse in Chongming Island for operation test at first. In October 2014, all the greenhouse equipment was shipped to Antarctica by “Xue Long". In March 2015, the project installation was successfully completed. The greenhouse sustained a strong wind of Scale 10 and now it is in good operation.
30 year warranty
Another advantage of PLEXIGLAS® is that it will show no visible yellowing for 30 years anywhere on the globe. Even in “the Home of the Blizzard”, the materials still retain their maximum light transmission over time.
The greenhouse in Great Wall Station does not only send fresh vegetables to the table of the expeditioners, but also adds a touch of warm green in the snow-covered land. Shanghai Dushi is planning on a similar project in the Zhongshan Research Station under even more severe conditions in Antarctica, so that the residents there could enjoy the same green. Benjamin Ling, Head of Evonik’s Asia Performance Materials Segment said: “The project of the first greenhouse in the extremely cold region sets a milestone and proved again the outstanding performance of PLEXIGLAS®. We will continue to provide tailor-made solutions with our innovative materials for customers in China and Asia.”