Ventairge, Innovate UK
Development of low carbon heating & cooling system with storage for public and commercial building
The Covid-19 global pandemic increased demand for cooling in patient critical hospital wards, as admissions increased during the early stages of the outbreak. It is also set to increase the heating demand in the winter months to come. According to the BEIS (2019), heat is the largest energy-consuming sector in the UK at 44% and the single largest contributor to UK emissions. With regard to cooling, UK demand is dominated by offices (65%) and retailers (30%). Air conditioners are expected to become widespread in the future due to expected rising temperatures. The cooling and heating demand of hospitals and retail spaces must be met by a renewable low-carbon solution such integrated with energy storage in order to reach net zero by 2050. This has given rise to a UK Thermal Energy Storage (TES) market of approximately 20GWh per year until 2050 (BEIS, 2019), which has a value of £800 million per year. This creates the need for a sustainable, renewable and efficient heating and cooling energy storage system with optimised controls for public health buildings and retail spaces.
The solution proposed is a low-carbon renewable heating and cooling system that utilises solar technology, combined with a sustainably highly compact storage module. The solution provides thermal energy storage for cooling of buildings in the summer, and heating in the winter. The critical components of the system are powered by solar technology. The power is renewable and the storage module is made from sustainable materials. The system also includes a control system utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, which efficiently regulates the ambient temperature. It uses Machine Learning (ML) for forecasting and predicting energy demands.
The initial results of the project focused on:
The development of the heating and cooling system design;
Creation and structural design of the storage model;
Formulation of the control system;
Laboratory testing was conducted on the solar technology and storage, which provided key data that was useful for the confirmation of operation and functionality of the modelled system;
Optimisation of the system and control models;