ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, and Conserval Engineering have joined forces to manufacture SolarWall, a technology that uses solar radiation to heat buildings and is claimed to reduce building heating costs by up to 50% in the process.

The plan is to produce SolarWall for SolarWall Europe at ArcelorMittal's Haironville plant, which is part of ArcelorMittal Construction France.

SolarWall is made of steel and integrated into the building itself. ArcelorMittal says the product is set to make 'a major contribution to meeting the EU’s 2020 energy targets that aim to increase by 20% the use of renewable energy'.

While use of the technology is widespread around the world, regulatory changes in Europe have enabled SolarWall to be used in Europe. Other European norms – such as EN13339, which stipulates the mandatory fresh air requirements for buildings – has been put in place to address 'tighter building envelopes' claims ArcelorMittal and this fits in well with SolarWall's ability to heat large volumes of fresh air.

SolarWall is an integrated solar air heating system that uses solar radiation to deliver naturally warmed air into buildings, providing a source of renewable heat. It is installed as an additional skin to a building to create an air cavity and consists of a collector made of pre-coated steel that enables high heat absorption and corrosion resistance as there are 'thousands of carefully engineered perforations spread across its surface to collect the heated air, according to ArcelorMittal.

'As sunlight strikes the surface of the steel skin, the energy is absorbed, heating the surface and creating a thermal boundary layer. In turn, this layer of heated air, which lines the face of the collector, is drawn through the perforations and into the building’s ventilation system,' says the steel giant.

Once installed, the system has a 30-year lifespan and requires virtually no maintenance.

Jean Christophe Kennel, ArcelorMittal Construction's CEO, said there was a trend towards highly efficient, holistic heating solutions which, he said, can be combined with existing renewable technologies 'that aim to increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. He added that SolarWall technology offers a new solution for the commercial, industrial and tertiary sector in terms of reducing both operating costs and emissions.

SolarWall's CEO John Hollick, said he was very pleased to be working alongside ArcelorMittal and able to offer SolarWall's low-cost technology as a means to help Europe meet its renewable energy target.