The Revolution Blog

How do you air-condition a World Cup? Ask this guy.

Saturday, Dec 17, 2022

As makers of the world’s biggest casters, we couldn’t help but feel simpatico with the world’s biggest single sports event taking place over the last few months—the FIFA World Cup. We laughed. We cried. We threw a shoe at the television. But another winning headline that caught our eye? This story about the brains behind Qatar’s solar-powered air-conditioned stadium system.

His name is Dr. Saud Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani. But everyone calls him Dr. Cool. Thirteen years ago, World Cup organizers approached Dr. Cool, a professor at Qatar University and an engineering expert on air-conditioning, with a complex design challenge: How to keep both players and rabid football fans cool across all eight stadiums in Doha, one of the world’s hottest big cities, at this year’s World Cup?

Dr. Cool’s now infamous solution, inspired by his PhD on cooling cars, creates a completely isolated cold bubble barrier system around each stadium’s field and stands by using a combination of insulation and “spot cooling”—what Dr. Cool refers to as targeting only places where fans and players concentrate in the stadium.

The bubble system at the 40,000 capacity Al Janoub Stadium, for example, is only two meters high. Cool air is pumped through grills in the stands and large nozzles on the field. The rising air is then sucked back over the top of the stadium, and re-cooled by a giant water tank filled with cold water, then filtered and re-circulated out again by the jets. Sensors throughout the stadium maintain a steady temp of 21 Celsius (70 Fahrenheit) and even adjust accordingly for seats in the shade or sun.

This spot-cooling system is said to be an estimated 40 percent more sustainable than other cooling techniques, as Dr. Cool’s system only requires stadiums to be cooled two hours before start time. It’s all powered by a giant solar farm in the desert outside Doha. The tech is unpatented, so Ghani hopes other countries with scorching temps can adopt this technology as well.

Sounds like a great goaaaaaaal.

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