Form and Function in Harmony - Wacker Chemie AG


Form and Function in Harmony

Bremen’s Weser Stadium is being rebuilt as a modern soccer arena featuring a new high-tech photovoltaic system. For the roof’s translucent inner ring, the stadium operator is venturing into uncharted architectural territory, and sending out a clear message about the importance of renewable energy. An indispensable component of the new roof’s attractive solar panels is a silicone gel from WACKER.

A new architectural design element: the translucent photovoltaic panels of the roof’s inner ring (in blue).

Atmospheric Stadium

To a real soccer fan, nothing tops actually being there in the stadium during a thrilling game, for no television broadcast, no matter how good, can capture the seething cauldron of suspense in the stands, nor replace the rallying and feverish excitement. In a stadium, the fans are much more than passive spectators – collectively, they are as valuable to their team as a 12th player.

But fans are no longer satisfied with the classic arena-like multipurpose stadiums, with their central playing field, surrounded by a running track, and hemmed in by an oval of austere bleachers. The trend is to build single-purpose soccer stadiums. A purpose-made soccer ground puts the fans as close as possible to the action, generating the atmosphere they’ve come to expect.

Rebuilding for the Future

This is the aim with the reconstruction of the venerable Weser Stadium – venue of major soccer league team Werder Bremen. With this project, the management is not only meeting the soccer fans’ expectations, but is also sending out a positive signal about tomorrow’s energy supplies. Bremen’s soccer stadium will receive a large photovoltaic (PV) system that is harmoniously integrated into the stadium architecture.

Silicones

Silicones, or vulcanized silicones, to be more exact, are characterized by a property profile that makes them interesting for a wide range of applications. Silicone elastomers together with silicone gels, which are less densely crosslinked, are permanently stable up to at least 180 °C. They absorb no water, have a strongly water-repellent (hydrophobic) surface, are electrical insulators and attenuate mechanical vibrations. Many applications benefit greatly from the fact that the physical and technical properties of silicone elastomers and gels remain unchanged over a wide temperature range (between -45 and +180 °C); not even continuous thermal and mechanical loads (even when exposed to oxygen, ozone and UV light) cause them to age. In this respect, they differ from all organic elastomers. In addition, silicones do not react with any other materials. These properties can be exploited in the production of photovoltaic panels, particularly with regard to their durability.

One feature of this system is the new roof’s inner ring. Its design incorporates lightweight and translucent solar panels (also called PV modules). They bestow a refined elegance on the roof, and their translucence provides a visual transition from the roofed spectator area to the open air playing field. An indispensable component of these extraordinary solar panels is a WACKER silicone gel, which durably protects the fragile solar cells within, and thus ensures that they can continue to provide electricity for years to come.