The Field Station supports outdoor experiments and serves as a living laboratory dedicated to the research and development of building technologies for high-performance buildings. It provides a controllable environment for the university’s researchers to test, demonstrate and fine-tune advanced energy systems and sustainable technologies.

The technologies currently being tested include novel lighting systems that use sunlight to light the rooms, advanced cooling systems that use pre-cooling methods to reduce peak cooling loads during the day, and specialized equipment for efficient dehumidification of ventilation air.

Designed 2008, completed 2012, the Masdar Institute Field Station fills three niches that traditional labs miss:

  • Outdoor Experiments: PV soiling experiments; palm frond test hut; wind turbine; novel desalination; seawater cooling tower
  • as a Living Laboratory: advanced ventilation air conditioning; night precooling of intrinsic mass; demand response; innovative heat rejection; efficient daylighting; and a cool roof
  • Support and staging area for in-situ experiments: such as an MEPS air-cooled chiller domo; optimal control and fault detection in cooling plants;

The Masdar Institute Field Station also hosts and supports pre-deployment of several Masdar Institute Environmental Monitoring Platform stations including 25 Urban Heat microclimate stations deployed around Abu Dhabi city May 2017 – April 2019.

Facilities include:
Day lighting systems

Two sun-tracking daylight collectors are placed on the roof to collect daytime sunlight. Mechanical
devices with mirrors follow the sun to increase light collection. Collected sunlight is funneled into a tube
within the ceiling of the Field Station’s rooms, providing natural lighting to the core of the building.
“Conventional” perimeter clerestory windows with fixed louvres admit diffuse sky light while blocking
the heat of direct sunlight

Pre-cooling system

A water-cooled vapor compression chiller runs chilled water through tubes in the floor to cool the
building’s concrete slabs during the night, reducing the amount of heat radiated from the concrete. This
pre-cooling system, consisting of a heat exchanger, pump and network of plastic tubes embedded in the
floor slab, keeps the building cooler throughout the day.

Dedicated Outdoor Air Conditioning (DOAS)

A demand controlled ventilation system maintains indoor air quality with minimum outdoor air intake. Much of the ventilation air conditioning energy is eliminated by transferring heat and moisture to the exhaust air using passive heat and mass-transfer methods. Air approaching the dehumidification coil is precooled by passively transferring heat to the dry air as it exits the coil. The remaining dehumidification is accomplished by a system that achieves high efficiency by matching compression ratio to the narrow range (25K) presented by the novel DOAS design. By providing dry ventilation air, the balance (~60%) of the cooling load (heat of conduction and internal gains) is also more efficiently accomplished using a compressor tuned for a much lower compression ratio (<10K in precooling mode).

High-performance Chiller

An advanced water cooled chiller employs brazed-plate heat exchangers (an efficient heat transfer system with a small footprint), variable speed pumps, and four variable-speed compressors. Heat is rejected by two variable-speed cooling towers mounted on the roof.

Advanced Multi-Mode Demand Responsive Air Conditioning System

A Toshiba-Carrier advanced air-cooled system performs similar functions as the water-cooled chiller
(pre-cooling of floor slab at night) and additionally can cool room air directly using ceiling cassette units.
The rooftop unit has two variable-speed compressors, a highly efficient variable-speed fan to reject heat
from an air-cooled condenser, and optimal sub-cooling control.

Automatic Fault Detection and Diagnosis

Extensive and detailed monitoring of the HVAC plants, distribution systems, and occupied space provides a unique testbed for developing and testing fault detection methods in a real-world environment.

Aerosol Monitoring

Two sampling stations, one in cooperation with the internationa l SPARTaN collaboration, monitor
density, size distribution and composition of dust and salt particles in the air. A 50-meter
transmissometer measures the extinction coefficient resulting from scattering and optical absorption by

Low-Cost Solar HDH Desalination

Winner of the 2017 Mohammed bin Rashid Global Water Award for Innovation, this desalination
system, using a perforated black-fabric solar humidifier (patent-pending), is under beta test at the Field
Station. The system combines the humidification stage with a solar heat collector in a low-cost, simple-
to-assemble tent-like structure that is about twice as efficient as the traditional solar still and does not
require expensive and fragile glass covers. Its performance and longevity are being verified through
measurements of ambient conditions and daily fresh water production

Cool Roof

A Cool Roof is highly reflective to solar radiation, which includes the visible and near infrared radiation bands, while at the same time absorbing and emitting high levels of low-temperature thermal energy, thus radiating excess heat to the sky.

LiDAR System

The LiDAR ceilometer fires rapid pulses of laser light upward and a sensor on the instrument measures the amount of time it takes for reflections from thousands of dust particles, illuminated by each pulse, to bounce back. The LiDAR instrument calculates the distance and movement of each particle with high accuracy in quick succession, enabling the instrument to generate a complex ‘map’ of turbulent air motion in the lower atmosphere up to 3000 meters.

Windspot Turbine

A small wind turbine produces electrical energy from the wind. Up to 3kW of power can be fed into the
Field Station Microgrid and/or be used to charge storage batteries for later use.

PhotoVoltaic Array

A 10kW PV array provides power to the building and to the grid.

PV soiling

The PV soiling experiment provides a testing platform to explore different technologies that will aid in
reducing dust build-up on the surfaces of solar photovoltaics and developing optimal cleaning strategies.

Meteorological Mast

A 10-meter meteorological mast supports meteorological observations, including temperature, relative
humidity at 2- and 10-meter elevations, wind velocities in 3-axes at 10-meter elevation along with
barometric pressure and moisture presence detection at 1-meter elevation.


Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring (NILM) analyzes power usage levels from the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC) metering point to identify when individual loads (such as lights, pumps, cooling units, fans, computers, refrigerator) are operating; to estimate the energy consumption of compressor, pump and fan loads; and to estimate the amount of heat rejected into the surrounding environment. The NILM supports two areas of research: automated fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) and Urban Heat Island measurement and mitigation measures.