Current funded projects within the Centre for Sustainable Technologies

Find out more about projects that are currently being funded


  • INPATH-TES: PhD on Innovation Pathways for TES (Thermal Energy Storage)

    Funder: CEC-H2020- SC-LCE-2014
    Duration: 01 May 2015 to 30 April 2018
    Staff Involved: Prof PW Griffiths, Dr C Brandoni, Dr J Mondol, Dr M Huang, Prof N Hewitt, Dr D Redpath

    The PhD on Innovation Pathways for project (INPATH-TES) received funding from the European Commission within the framework of the H2020 European programme (Nº 657466), with the main objective to create a network of universities, research centres and industries that would allow the implementation of a joint PhD programme in thermal energy storage (TES). As a result of the European project, the INPATH-TES network, coordinated by the University of Lleida, was created with the main goal to foster cooperation between universities, research institutes, and companies from industry aimed at developing quality learning material for the education and training of professionals in the field of thermal energy storage. The final results of this network was the qualification of highly skilled specialists on this topic, able to meet the needs of research institutes and industrial companies.

  • ALICE - Accelerate innovation in urban wastewater management for climate change

    Funder: CEC-H2020-MSCA-RISE
    Duration: 01 January 2017 to 31 December 2020
    Staff Involved: Dr C Brandoni, Prof N Hewitt

    The ALICE project aims to accelerate innovation in urban wastewater (WW) management for addressing the effects of climate change. In this frame, it will identify solutions and seek to remove barriers in their adoption and implementation by fostering an effective interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral cooperation among researchers, both experienced (ER) and early stage (ESR), and industry representatives, including water utilities and public organisations through mobility of project partner staff members.

    Through mobility (secondments) of staff members facilitating the transfer of knowledge and boosting staff skills and career perspectives, ALICE aims to: explore society’s role, social behaviour and acceptability in the development of innovative management systems for urban WW; improve the urban resilience of WW infrastructures; enhance the reuse of reclaimed WW and resource recovery, exploring the leading edge technologies of urban WW treatment to broaden its dimension in Europe; explore the WW and energy nexus in WW treatment plants to reduce their carbon footprint, adopting a holistic approach to resource efficiency.

  • Aquaflex

    Funder: InvestNI CASE
    Duration: 1st March 2020 – 30th September 2021
    Staff Involved: Dr P Keatley

    The project will quantify the potential for Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) owned and operated by NI Water to create customer and system value. To achieve this, three discrete levels of resource assessment will be modelled.

    • A digital twin of a number of exemplar test sites will be created in Scheider’s Ecostruxure platform. The twin will incorporate resources and loads within the site to optimise their interaction with variables such as electricity price, system charges and local generation. The creation of the digital twin will also allow a range of scales of BESS to be modelled.
    • The digital twin will interact with Grid Beyond’s Smart Grid Phasor Measurement and Control platform to create a link between the NI Water site and the DNO/TSO control room. The platform has a 20msec sampling and control clock and can capture voltage and frequency traces to this resolution while carrying out frequency and voltage control to 100msecs. It has communications interfaces which will allow it to communicate local voltage and capacity availability in real time to the DNO/TSO. Grid Beyond already carries out short term, day-ahead, intra-day and imbalance trading in partnership with Haven and EDF in the GB market using this system and are also working on this with ESB in RoI. The implementation of this project at NI Water sites will demonstrate how BESS could contribute to DS3 services for the NI TSO; and voltage, network congestion and peak management for NIE Networks.
    • In parallel with the Ecostruxure platform model, and using data from Grid Beyond’s control platform, the project will develop a number of network models with NIE Networks to assess the local impact of operating the BESS in the Neplan modelling package.

    The combination of the three levels of modelling (BTM/customer-owned resource; network/grid interface and communications; local network/substation impacts) will define the full ‘value stack’ for each site/BESS resource assessed.

    The project will also develop the concept for a mobile containerised storage system to be used as a ‘floating’ resource able to provide interim resilience to NI Water sites while shutdowns/refits are carried out, and as an R&D resource to evaluate the locational value of BESS at a range of NI Water sites.

  • CLARA - Chemical Looping gasification for sustainable production of biofuels.

    Funder: CEC-H2020-SC ENERGY
    Duration: 01 December 2018 to 30 November 2022
    Staff Involved: Prof Y Huang

    The aim of CLARA is to develop a concept for the production of biofuels based on chemical looping gasification of biogenic residues. Through cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary cooperation, the CLARA consortium, consisting of thirteen international members including universities, research institutes and industrial partners, aims to investigate the complete biomass-to-fuel chain and bring the suggested process to market maturity. Here, the advantages of utilizing locally available biogenic residues and the economy of scale are combined, through decentralized feedstock pre-treatment facilities and a centralized fuel production plant in the scale of 100-300 MWth. The fuel production plant itself consists of a chemical looping gasifier for the production of a syngas, a gas treatment train to provide the required syngas composition for the subsequent synthesis, a Fischer-Tropsch (FT) reactor to covert the syngas into liquid transportation fuels, and a hydrocracking unit for the production of drop-in fuels from FT-wax

  • CLARE: Capacity building in local authorities for fostering renewable and energy efficient community projects

    Funder: CEC NPP Northern Periphery & Arctic Pro
    Duration: 01 March 2016 to 31 August 2016
    Staff Involved: Prof N Hewitt, Dr C Brandoni

    The project helped build the capacity and readiness of local and regional authorities to introduce renewable energy and energy efficient solutions into buildings and public infrastructure. It did this through the development of a new, innovative integrated assessment tool which can be used to assess the feasibility of community renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Moreover, it increased the expertise of Local Authorities by looking at how low carbon technologies are used and how Local Authorities can support citizens’ behavioural change. The aims of the project were to: support the decision making process of energy community initiatives; remove the barriers that can arise during early stage engagement with consultancy groups; provide value-added information about project risks that are relevant to the feasibility of project financing; support LA’s in strategically identifying initiatives for influencing citizens in adopting low carbon technologies and sustainable behaviour.

  • Coleraine Microgrid: A district energy scheme for Coleraine

    Funder: Invest NI CASE
    Duration: 08 April 2016 to 04 January 2017
    Staff Involved: Dr P Keatley

    This project examined the feasibility of developing a hybrid ‘power to heat’ energy system for industrial heat consumers in Coleraine based on a large-scale water source heat pump (WSHP) and electrode boilers. More specifically the project sought to quantify the capability of large-scale advanced water source heat pumps, combined with megawatt-scale electrode boilers, to provide grid services (frequency regulation, reserve, load on demand) in a system with a high penetration of variable renewable energy (VRE). The study confirmed a significant and concentrated demand for heat within a relatively small area of the town which would lend itself to a smart district heat network.

  • Coleraine Microgrid: A district energy scheme for Coleraine.

    Funder: Invest NI CASE
    Duration: 08 April 2016 to 04 January 2017
    Staff Involved: Dr P Keatley

    This project examined the feasibility of developing a hybrid ‘power to heat’ energy system for industrial heat consumers in Coleraine based on a large-scale water source heat pump (WSHP) and electrode boilers. More specifically the project sought to quantify the capability of large-scale advanced water source heat pumps, combined with megawatt-scale electrode boilers, to provide grid services (frequency regulation, reserve, load on demand) in a system with a high penetration of variable renewable energy (VRE). The study confirmed a significant and concentrated demand for heat within a relatively small area of the town which would lend itself to a smart district heat network.

  • Combined HEat SyStem by using Solar Energy and heaT pUmPs (Chess-Setup)

    Funder: H2020 - EE-02-2015 - Buildings design for new highly energy performing buildings
    Duration: 01 March 2018 – 31 August 2021
    Staff Involved: Prof NJ Hewitt, Dr M Huang

    This project develops and evaluates hybrid photovoltaic/solar thermal (PVT) systems operating with seasonal thermal storage and heat pumps on three scales of site – namely a large-scale leisure centre, a medium scale office and individual homes. Ulster has developed advanced heat pumps for domestic scale operations.

  • Combined heat system by using solar energy and heat pumps CHESS-SETUP

    Funder: H2020
    Duration: 01 July 2016 – 30 June 2019
    Staff Involved: Professor NJ Hewitt & Dr M Huang

    The project objective is to design, implement and promote a reliable, efficient and profitable system able to supply heating and hot water in buildings mainly from renewable sources. The proposed system is based in the optimal combination of solar thermal (ST) energy production, seasonal heat storage and high efficient heat pump use. Heat pumps will be improved technically in order to obtain the best performance in the special conditions of the CHESS-SETUP system. The used solar panels will be hybrid photovoltaic and solar thermal (PV-ST) panels, which is a promising solution for also producing the electricity consumed by the heat and water pumps of the heating system and part of the electricity consumed in the building. Hybrid solar panels are a key element to achieving energy self-sufficiency in buildings, especially in dense urban areas where the roof availability is one of the most limiting factors.

    Also will be considered the integration of other energy sources as biomass or heat waste, to make the system suitable for any climate conditions. The project will also explore the possibility to integrate the system with other electricity or cooling technologies (solar cooling, cogeneration). The system operation will be optimized according to some external factors, as electricity price or user requirements by using a smart control and management systems developed specifically for the project.

  • Comfort Climate Box

    Funder: UKRI – EPSRC
    Duration: 1st June 2020 – 30th August 2022
    Staff Involved: Prof NJ Hewitt, Dr M Huang, Dr N Shah, Dr I Vorushylo

    The central concept in this Annex is the Comfort and Climate Box CCB. This concept denotes a combined package, consisting of a Heat Pump, an Energy Storage Module and Controls. This package may form an actual physical unit but can also consist of separate modules that form an integrated 'virtual pack-age'. A CCB should not just be a set of components that have been put together. Rather, all components of the CCB should be designed to work together in a modular fashion and should be operated under a dedicated and optimal integrated control strategy. The package solution could but will not automatically take the shape of a single physical 'box' providing all functions. Rather, the package may also consist of a set of 'modules' that have been designed to work together and are run by a dedicated and optimized control strategy as a 'virtual package'. The Comfort and Climate Box will compile a portfolio of country-specific prototype testing and demonstration projects. A description of the market status will be elaborated. Derived from this, a roadmap will establish the next steps of development and describe how to implement the CCB in the respective markets, with recommendations for market participants and policy makers on how to enhance market uptake. Ulster will develop the optimal heat pump and thermal storage combination from global best practice.

  • Compressed Heat Energy Storage for Energy from Renewable Sources

    Funder: H2020-LCE-2016-2017
    Duration: 01 March 2018 – 31 August 2021
    Staff Involved: Prof NJ Hewitt, Dr M Huang, Dr N Shah

    The CHESTER project is developing a demand side response system based around a higher temperature heat pump, a high temperature thermal store and an organic Rankine cycle. Ulster has evaluated refrigerants (R1233zd(E)) and lubricants for heat delivery temperature over 100°C.

  • Cost effective conversion of lignite & waste to liquid fuel

    Funder: CEC Coal and Steel
    Duration: 01 July 2018 to 31 December 2021
    Staff Involved: Dr Y Huang, Prof N Hewitt

    LIG2LIQ is a 3-year research project funded by the European Commission managed Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS). The aim is to develop an economically efficient concept for production of liquid fuels, such as Fischer-Tropsch fuels or methanol, from lignite and solid recovered fuel from municipal waste by means of the High Temperature Winkler (HTW) gasification technology. Capital costs are decreased by an innovative gas cleaning stage for the subsequent synthesis step. The full process chain is tested in a 500 kWth pilot plant. The process is scaled up to industrial size using adequate models that have been validated at pilot scale. A techno-economic assessment and life cycle analysis is performed.

  • DEcarbonisation of Low TemperAture Process Heat Industry, DELTA PHI

    Funder: UKRI – EPSRC EP/T022981/1
    Duration: 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2023
    Staff Involved: Prof NJ Hewitt, Dr N Shah


    The provision of low temperature industrial process heat in 2018 was responsible for over 30% of total industrial primary energy use in the UK. The majority of this, 75%, was produced by burning oil, gas and coal. Low temperature process heat is a major component of energy use in many industrial sectors including food and drink, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, manufacture of metal products and machinery, printing, and textiles. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with low temperature process heat generation and meet UK targets, in the long term, will require a transition to zero carbon electricity, fuels or renewable heat. In the short term this is not feasible. We propose an approach in which heat is more effectively used within the industrial process, and/or exported to meet heat demands in the neighbouring area allowing significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions per unit industrial production to be achieved and potentially provide an additional revenue source. Ulster will develop high temperature heat pumps.

  • Direct primary coal liquefaction via an innovative co-processing approach with waste and petroleum feedstocks

    Funder : EU RFSC
    Duration: 01 July 2016 – 30 June 2019
    Staff Involved: Dr Ye Huang

    DIRPRIMCOAL is a three year project funded by the EU Research Fund for Steel and Coal (RFSC). The main goal of the research is to improve the viability and environmental performance of direct coal liquefaction (DCL) by providing a framework to develop it within the EU without the need for extremely large-scale plant. It will establish a distributed approach to enable DCL as a technology suitable for co-processing a variety of wastes, including plastics, tyres and bio-wastes which can thermally decompose into effective solvents. The liquefaction products will be assessed specifically for co-processing with petroleum feedstocks in existing refinery facilities. The results will be used to design DCL modules as the basis for future pilot plants.

  • DIRPRIMCOAL: Direct primary coal liquefaction via an innovative co-processing approach with waste and petroleum feedstocks

    Funder: CEC - Coal and Steel RFCS-01-2015
    Duration: 01 July 2016 to 30 June 2019
    Staff Involved: Dr Y Huang

    The main goal of the proposed research was to improve the viability and environmental performance of direct coal liquefaction (DCL) by providing a framework where it can develop in the EU without the need for extremely large-scale plant and with a focus on low-rank and perhydrous coals that provide the highest conversions at lowest cost. The research will establish a distributed approach to DCL that will enable it to be introduced as a technology suitable for coprocessing a variety of wastes, including plastics, tyres and bio-wastes which can thermally decompose into effective solvents. The two primary conversion routes will be investigated to optimise the use of wastes and co-feeds are (i) the use solvents with some H-donor properties without hydrogen pressure and (ii) the use of waste and non-donor solvents with added hydrogen pressure with means for in-situ generation being investigated. The primary liquefaction products will then be assessed for co-processing with petroleum feedstocks in existing refinery facilities with a test programme involving both catalytic cracking and hydrocracking with hydro-isomerisation of the naphtha produced from both processes.

  • Distributed Energy Storage Systems

    Funder: The Royal Society
    Duration: 01 March 2016 to 28 February 2018
    Staff Involved: Dr Y Huang, Dr M Huang, Prof N Hewitt

    This travel grant addressed the role of distributed energy storage systems in energy networks, comparing and contrasting activities in the UK and China, in association with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

  • Eco-City Research Project

    Funder: ILEX
    Duration: 01 July 2014 – 01 December 2014
    Staff Involved: Professor NJ Hewitt

    In 2013, Ebrington was a key venue during the UK City of Culture celebrations, hosting a range of events with audiences in excess of 500,000, including BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, 2013 Turner Prize, the Walled City Tattoo, the Lumière Festival, the Fleadh Cheoil na h’Éireann and a range of other sporting, family, charity and cultural activities. In 2013, Ebrington was a key venue during the UK City of Culture celebrations, hosting a range of events with audiences in excess of 500,000, including BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, 2013 Turner Prize, the Walled City Tattoo, the Lumière Festival, the Fleadh Cheoil na h’Éireann and a range of other sporting, family, charity and cultural activities. Ebrington is a 26-acre site with 19 remaining buildings, 14 of which are listed. The site features a 19th century star fort, connected to the historic walled city by the iconic Peace Bridge, an Ilex project which was opened to the public in June 2011. Ebrington Square has been transformed as a new public realm and a multi-purpose event space. Launched on 14 February 2012, Ebrington Square leads to the re-developed Cunningham Square on to Dale’s Corner and into the heart of the Waterside. Ulster’s role was to consider what energy efficiency innovations could be deployed in keeping with its heritage. A measurement phase was followed by an assessment of likely interventions.

  • EENSULATE - Development of innovative lightweight and highly insulating energy efficient components and associated enabling materials for cost-effective retrofitting and new construction of curtain wall facades.

    Funder: EU, Horizon 2020
    Duration: 01 August 2016 to 31 January 2020
    Staff Involved: Dr T Hyde and Dr J Zhang

    Eensulate will aim to develop an affordable, highly insulating and lightweight solution for transparent envelopes to bring existing curtain wall buildings to “nearly zero energy” standards, thereby reducing energy bills while complying with the structural limits of the original building and national building codes.

    The key components of the system will include an innovative vacuum insulating glazing (VIG) with novel edge sealing and getter technology, a multifunctional thermotunable coating to allow for dynamic control of solar gain a smart mono-component and environmentally friendly spray foam for the opaque components of the insulating façade system.

    The Centre for Sustainable Technologies will work with key industry partners and universities on the development and evaluation of a lightweight and thin vacuum insulating glazing to provide superior insulation for the transparent component of the curtain wall. This will be achieved through an innovative low temperature fabrication process which is compatible with the use of tempered glass and high performance low emissivity coatings.

    The project output will be a range of insulating solutions based around a VIG with two levels of performance – a basic module which has enhanced thermal and acoustic performance and a premium system which incorporates novel thermochromic coatings with self-cleaning and anti-fogging functionality. The systems will be evaluated as a full scale spandrel component in the retrofit of demonstration buildings and the limited thickness of the system will be exploited in innovative solutions for the fenestration of historical buildings.

  • EENSULATE: Development of Innovative Lightweight and Highly Insulating Energy Efficient Components

    Funder: CEC-H2020-IL-NANOTECH
    Duration: 01 October 2016 to 31 January 2020
    Staff Involved: Dr TJ Hyde, Dr J Zhang

    Curtain walls, i.e. facade modules, which span from floor to ceiling consisting mainly of transparent glass-walled component, have been an integral part of commercial and public building for over a century. Today curtain walls are associated with modern architecture and their popularity is exponentially increasing. However, curtain walls are often criticized for their limited insulation characteristics.

    For this reason, the developers of Eensulate technology came up with a product, which will reduce unwanted energy losses. Furthermore, existing buildings, including historical ones, are responsible for up to 60% of energy losses through the envelope. Eensulate modules are suitable for both new and existing buildings and therefore have the capacity to solve the major energy losses through retrofitting of old buildings. The goal of the project is to develop an affordable advanced architectural glass to address thermal and acoustic insulation.

    Eensulate is expected to minimize thermal bridges between curtain walls and sub-structures, have cost-effective control of solar radiation and approach to insulate the spandrel, allow for an easy implementation on site by reducing the weight of the curtain wall.

  • End Use Energy Demand Centres Collaborative Projects

    Funder: UKRI-EPSRC
    Duration: 25 April 2016 to 31 August 2016
    Staff Involved: Prof N Hewitt

    This collaborative project addressed the potential use of high temperature heat pumps in the UK dairy sector. A range of temperature/heat needs were identified and heat pump types i.e. commercially available units were specified.

  • End use energy demand centres collaborative projects

    Funder:  RCUK/EPSRC
    Duration: 01 August 2016 to 31 May 2018
    Staff Involved: Professor NJ Hewitt

    The End Use Energy Demand centres are a £30m investment of the RCUK Energy Programme, with over 200 researchers across over 25 institutions running from 2013-2018. In 2015 it was agreed that collaborative work across the six centres on key themes would add extra value to the centres' work. 5 collaborative projects are outlined here, of the type that will run in the remaining funding period (spring '16 - spring '18). The funding is flexible so that the Directors can use it to greatest effect.

    1. Analysing SuperMarket Energy Data - will combine the knowledge and skills of three centres CEE, CSEF and i-STUTE to create a clearer picture of supermarket energy use in the UK which can then inform policy and industry on future energy demand decisions.

    2. Establishing a research programme on exergy economics - CIED and CIE-Map centre experts will combine to raise awareness and build capacity of this emerging field of research (which focusses on energy that can do work as opposed to all energy expended) with a view to laying foundations for future work in the field.

    3. Heat pump and thermal energy storage technologies for industrial energy demand reduction - This project will combine the expertise of three of the centre (CSEF, i-STUTE and CIE-MAP) to consider further the potential contribution of heat pumps, sorption refrigeration and thermal energy storage technologies for energy efficiency and decarbonisation of the industrial sector. The project will also identify future research and development needs for the improvement of the thermoeconomic performance of these technologies.

    4. Conceptualising Infrastructures, innovation and demand - DEMAND and CIED are both concerned with innovations in infrastructures and practice, and with the implications of these dynamics for energy and mobility demand. Whilst the two centres approach this topic from different angles, current research - for instance, on city scale innovation, on pathways to district and home heating, on novel nstitutional/ infrastructural conjunctions (e.g. around electric vehicles), and on peaks and patterns of demand - is generating a series of important cross-cutting questions to do with space, time and scale.

    5. Invisible energy policy: new opportunities for intervention - Many different areas of government policy - health, education, defence, welfare and economic policy to name but a few, have tangible consequences for energy demand and for patterns of mobility. DEMAND and CIE-MAP will combine forces to help articulate and identify critical areas of what we describe as 'invisible' energy policy.

  • Energy Storage and Demand-Side Flexibility within Future Electricity Markets

    Funder: SFI-DfE
    Duration:
    01 March 2017 – 28 February 2021
    Staff Involved:
    Prof N Hewitt, Dr Y Huang

    There is major energy revolution being led by Ireland in that new electricity market structures must accommodate increased electrification of the heat and transport sectors and increased renewable energy penetration. The revolution will realise new opportunities for cost effective energy storage and smart grid controls at all scales. These revolutions, coupled with increased consumer participation and awareness, will lead to a new paradigm in energy system analysis that must also account for energy security, stability and reliability. Ireland is the showcase of this approach with high rates of wind penetration, and future aspirations approaching 42.5% renewable generation, of which the majority will be wind. Ireland’s 2020 target and subsequent 2030 and 2050 aspirations will lead to electricity network stability challenges and energy availability issues in excess of many other countries and will therefore demonstrate impacts and solutions ahead of such requirements.

    The Irish power system is already being impacted by system stability concerns, leading to wind turbines being turned off (curtailment), unfavourable electricity trading with our connected neighbours and other measures, while only being approximately halfway towards its 2020 target. For 2030 and 2050 scenarios, with potentially increased interconnection, offshore (wind, wave and tidal) arrays, PV installations, etc. periods of high and very high renewable energy penetration will become increasingly common. Recent road maps for Ireland to 2050 illustrate that onshore wind installed capacity could increase to 15 GW, with 30 GW of offshore wind. Decarbonisation of domestic space heating is also deemed to be part of a least cost option for 2050 decarbonisation targets: electrification of space heating may avail of renewable energy, but will be rivalled by the electrification of personal transport.

    Thus the questions to be answered are how high can the instantaneous wind penetration be pushed, without compromising security and stability of supply? Furthermore, how will system stability impacts affect investments decisions and market structures? Large-scale / distributed energy storage, demand-side response, generation technology advances, smart grid strategies, and other measures, are likely to form an integral part of that solution. The impacts of this research include policy guidance for 2020, 2030 and 2050 decarbonisation targets and aspirations, operational strategies for economically maintaining system security & stability, viable business cases for new & existing market participants, and ultimately signposting necessary directions for a sustainable, efficient, secure and reliable electricity network that meets all end-user needs.

  • Energy storage and demand-side flexibility within future electricity markets

    Funder: Science Foundation Ireland and Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland)
    Duration: 01 January 2016 to 28 February 2021
    Staff Involved: Prof N Hewitt, Dr Y Huang

    Impending energy market changes, potential increased electrification of the heat and transport sectors and increased renewable energy penetration will realise new opportunities for cost effective energy storage and smart grid controls at all scales.  This when coupled with increased consumer participation and awareness, will lead to a new paradigm in energy system analysis that must also account for energy security, stability and reliability. Ireland is the showcase of this approach with high rates of wind penetration and future higher aspirations of which the majority will be wind.  This 2020 target and subsequent 2030 and 2050 aspirations will lead to electricity network stability challenges and energy availability issues in excess of EU members and thus demonstrating impacts and their solutions ahead of EU requirements. Ulster will address demand side management and electricity market aspects of this work.

  • Foyle River Gardens

    Funder: InvestNI CASE
    Duration: 1st March 2020 – 30th September 2021
    Staff Involved: Prof NJ Hewitt, Prof LP Maguire

    The Foyle River Gardens (FRG) Project seeks to be a carbon neutral development maximising the use of on-site renewable and sustainable energy sources and supplementing their use with renewable electricity from the electricity network. The focus of this submission is centred on proposed FRG centre and ensuring it and its surrounding infrastructure are an exemplar of cost effective “near zero carbon” community integration.

  • Gender, ageing and latency in the transition to low-carbon system: empowering women as decision makers

    Funder: UKERC
    Duration: 01 September 2018 to 30 April 2019
    Staff Involved: Dr C Brandoni, Dr I Vorushylo, Dr Y Huang, Prof N Hewitt

    The uptake of low carbon technologies, demand side management and behind the meter strategies for introducing renewable technologies in houses with elderly inhabitants could help the decarbonisation of the energy system and the electricity network to defer grid investments. Women, on average, live about 4 years longer than men, and older women are more likely to be poor, socially isolated badly housed, and spending long hours at home. Households’ energy investment decisions, therefore, are going to affect more heavily women than men in the long run. This project aims to understand the role of age, latency and gender in how to empower the next generation of elderly women for a transition to a low-carbon energy system. They will carry out four workshops, run four focus groups, produce a video, organise a science café and carry out a survey of women in Northern Ireland to explore this field. The findings will contribute towards policy documents and research outputs.

  • Global Challenge Research Fund - Herd Power - Energy for Change Hub

    Funder: Internal Ulster GCRF Pump Prime Fund
    Duration: October 2017 - March 2018
    Staff involved: Dr Mervyn Smyth (PI), Dr Aggelos Zacharopoulos, Dr Jayanta Mondol, Dominic McLarnon

    Ulster University has been awarded a sum of money to pump-prime and scope applications to the GCRF in 2018/2019. Dr Mervyn Smyth and his team at Ulster University have been successful in acquiring some of this funding to explore GCRF Herd Power – Energy for Change Hub.

    More than 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live without access to electricity. The wide scale implementation of solar PV is seen by many as the only suitable method in achieving the electrification of rural Africa. The HERD Power concept is based around a localised PV DC electric power distribution hub (direct connection or battery supply) that focuses on the distributed nature of dwellings in rural Africa. A single HERD hub can serve up to 10 dwellings and strikes a balance between costly individual PV dwelling installations and larger centralised multi-kW PV installations that require greater infrastructural commitment and suffer power degradation over longer distances. HERD Power is facilitated through improved business PAYG models (enabled by the innovative FinTech platform through Mobile, Cloud and Blockchain technologies) to the local household and community users in a manner that fits their given circumstances.

    The aim of this pump-prime GCRF project to scope and develop a partner consortia of technology/supply chain providers, community representatives, stakeholders and investors to explore further funding through GCRF Hub and advancement of the Herd Power – Energy for Change concept.

    A core objective will be to create an interdisciplinary platform and vehicle for key stakeholders across energy, health professionals, engineers, sociologists, policy, finance, rural affairs, environmentalists, water experts, charity and community groups to explore HERD Power in greater detail and advance the concept of energy as an enabler to empower rural communities.

    The project is being led by Ulster University in Northern Ireland with a multi- party consortium including African partners in Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Mauritania and Lesotho.

    Scoping workshop scheduled for February 27th, 2018 in Botswana, Gaborone at the Masa Square Hotel. Outputs from the workshop and associated events will be made public in late Spring 2018.

    Contact Dr Mervyn Smyth m.smyth1@ulster.ac.uk in Ulster University and Eunice Ntobedzi eunix.dzi@gmail.com in Empowered, Botswana for more details of workshop event.

  • GRAGE - Gray and green in Europe: elderly living in urban areas

    Funder: CEC-H2020-MSCA-RISE
    Duration: 01 October 2015 to 29 November 2018
    Staff Involved: Prof N Hewitt, Dr C Brandoni

    The EU has to face many challenges in achieving a more balanced regional development and sustainable economic recovery. Many of those challenges have to do with an ageing population trend, urbanization and environment under distress. More liveable and efficient communities is a target to be reached in Europe, where the “silver hair” trends can become a challenging opportunity, from a social, economic and cultural perspective. Despite those challenges are strongly interlinked, solutions provided in urban contexts not often pay due attention to the social process underlying urban trends and to the needs and behaviour of elderly citizens. GRAGE intended to fill this gap, to promote an active, harmonious and inclusive citizenship for elderly people living in urban contexts. The consortium gathered ground-breaking expertise from different scientific background (legal, economic, humanities, engineering), from academic and non-academic institutions, belonging to several countries (from EU and Ukraine). Using a mix of methodologies, the research and innovation programme of the project evolved around the idea of citizenship as a collector of interest, healthy environment and suitable urban solutions for an aging society. The main themes were green buildings, food and urban agriculture and information and language technology.

  • Heat Pump Fully Integrated with Thermochemical Store (HP-FITS)

    Funder: UKRI – EPSRC
    Duration: 1st October 2020 – 30th September 2024
    Staff Involved: Prof NJ Hewitt, Dr M Huang, Dr N Shah, Dr I Vorushylo


    The contribution to decarbonising heat in buildings (both domestic and commercial) when utilising renewable electricity are well known and easy to appreciate. However, it is simplistic to think that with enough wind turbines, PV panels, etc. to produce renewable electricity and enough electric heat pumps to heat homes and other buildings that the problem will be solved. Even with very efficient heat pumps the peak electricity load on a Winter's morning might be 2 or 3 times the present grid and distribution system capacity and this does not include the effect of simultaneously charging the large number of electric vehicles expected in the future. The problem is complicated by the possibility of decarbonised gas (whether hydrogen or biogas) in a new or repurposed gas grid, partial enhancement of the electricity grid, etc. Possible ways to mitigate these problems will include both electricity and thermal storage to manage peak loads, either at consumer level or more centralised. This proposal concentrates on heat storage, which is many times less costly per MJ that electricity storage. The concept is to store heat at the consumer's (domestic or commercial) heat pump so that the heat pump can operate when most advantageous to the system, i.e. when there is surplus renewable electricity (predominantly wind and PV). Heat is drawn from the store when there is a higher demand for or lower availability of renewable electricity. Here we consider storage times of hours to a day, but not weeks or inter-seasonally.

  • HERD Power - Feasibility study, workshop and partner consortia building

    Funder: Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland
    Duration: 01 April 2017 to 31 March 2018
    Staff Involved: Dr MA Smyth, Dr A Zacharopoulos, Dr J Mondol

  • High performance vacuum flat plate solar collector for hot water and process heat

    Funder : EPSRC
    Duration: 01 July 2013 – 30 June 2016
    Staff Involved: Dr Trevor Hyde

    The project aims to develop an evacuated flat plate solar collector with glass covers front and back which is little thicker and weighs little more than a conventional insulating glazing unit. The research will investigate novel vacuum sealing technologies for the glass envelope based around previously developed sealing techniques used for high performance evacuated glazing. Collaborators at the University of Warwick and Loughborough University and will develop a novel lightweight absorber for the collector and an alternative glass/metal collector envelope. This concept will enable new approaches to building integration as it can be used in place of roofing, glazing or façade components. The superior performance characteristics achieved by the novel design will allow this collector to outperform both flat plate and evacuated tube collectors over a wide range of operating conditions.

  • INPATH - TES: PhD on innovation pathways for TES (thermal energy storage)

    Funder: CEC-H2020-SC-LCE-2014
    Duration: 01 May 2015 – 30 April 2018
    Staff Involved: Prof Philip Griffiths, Prof Neil Hewitt, Dr Mingjun Huang

    Following the EC SET-Plan Education and Training Roadmap, the concept of this proposal is to develop a joint PhD programme between universities and research centres, on the topic of Thermal Energy Storage (TES). The goal of INPATH-TES is to create a network of universities and research institutes to implement a joint PhD programme on TES technologies.

    The goal of this network is to provide education on these technologies for professionals involved in European research and industry institutions. The partners in the project will form the core of a future larger network of excellent R&D institutions and industries for co-funding and industrial placement, sharing infrastructure capacities and enhancing the mobility of students.

  • Interdisciplinary centre for storage, transformation and upgrading of thermal energy (i-STUTE)

    Funder: RCUK/EPSRC
    Duration: 01 April 2013 to 31 March 2018
    Staff Involved: Professor NJ Hewitt & Dr M Huang

    The UK is committed to a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% before 2050. With over 40% of fossil fuels used for low temperature heating and 16% of electricity used for cooling these are key areas that must be addressed. The vision of our interdisciplinary centre is to develop a portfolio of technologies that will deliver heat and cold cost-effectively and with such high efficiency as to enable the target to be met, and to create well planned and robust Business, Infrastructure and Technology Roadmaps to implementation.

    Features of our approach to meeting the challenge are:

    a) Integration of economic, behavioural, policy and capability/skills factors together with the science/technology research to produce solutions that are technically excellent, compatible with and appealing to business, end-users, manufacturers and installers.

    b) Managing our research efforts in Delivery Temperature Work Packages (DTWPs) (freezing/cooling, space heating, process heat) so that exemplar study solutions will be applicable in more than one sector (e.g. Commercial/Residential, Commercial/Industrial).

    c) The sub-tasks (projects) of the DTWPs will be assigned to distinct phases: 1st Wave technologies or products will become operational in a 5-10 year timescale, 2nd Wave ideas and concepts for application in the longer term and an important part of the 2050 energy landscape. 1st Wave projects will lead to a demonstration or field trial with an end user and 2nd Wave projects will lead to a proof-of-concept (PoC) assessment.

    d) Being market and emission-target driven, research will focus on needs and high volume markets that offer large emission reduction potential to maximise impact. Phase 1 (near term) activities must promise high impact in terms of CO2 emissions reduction and technologies that have short turnaround times/high rates of churn will be prioritised.

    e) A major dissemination network that engages with core industry stakeholders, end users, contractors and SMEs in regular workshops and also works towards a Skills Capability Development Programme to identify the new skills needed by the installers and operators of the future. The SIRACH (Sustainable Innovation in Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heating)

    Network will operate at national and international levels to maximise impact and findings will be included in teaching material aimed at the development of tomorrow's engineering professionals.

    f) To allow the balance and timing of projects to evolve as results are delivered/analysed and to maximise overall value for money and impact of the centre only 50% of requested resources are earmarked in advance.

    g) Each DTWP will generally involve the complete multidisciplinary team in screening different solutions, then pursuing one or two chosen options to realisation and test.

    Our consortium brings together four partners: Warwick, Loughborough, Ulster and London South Bank Universities with proven track records in electric and gas heat pumps, refrigeration technology, heat storage as well as policy / regulation, end-user behaviour and business modelling. Industrial, commercial, NGO and regulatory resources and advice will come from major stakeholders such as DECC, Energy Technologies Institute, National Grid, British Gas, Asda, Co-operative Group, Hewlett Packard, Institute of Refrigeration, Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

    An Advisory Board with representatives from industry, government, commerce, and energy providers as well as international representation from centres of excellence in Germany, Italy and Australia will provide guidance. Collaboration (staff/student exchange, sharing of results etc.) with government-funded thermal energy centres in Germany (at Fraunhofer ISE), Italy (PoliMi, Milan) and Australia (CSIRO) clearly demonstrate the international relevance and importance of the topic and will enhance the effectiveness of the international effort to combat climate change.

  • KTP Programme between the University of Ulster and Delta Print and Packaging Ltd

    Funder: KTP
    Duration: 21st January 2014 – 27th July 2016
    Staff Involved: M Anderson, Professor NJ Hewitt

    This KTP project addressed improvements in energy efficiency in Delta Packaging, a packaging company producing hot food packaging for a number of the major international fast food suppliers. The Graduate implemented a number of actions within the project:

    • Data acquisition on the production lines to understand energy use in additional machines on the production line.
    • Understanding the differences between different shift patterns in terms of energy efficiency and energy usage.
    • Suggest improvements in production energy efficiency.
    • Monitor these changes and show that improvements were obtained.
  • Low temperature Heat Recovery and Distribution Network Technologies (Lo-NET)

    Funder: UKRI-EPSRC
    Duration: 01 September 2018 to 31 August 2023
    Staff Involved: Prof N Hewitt, Dr M Huang

    Lot-NET considers how waste heat streams from industrial or other sources feeding into low temperature heat networks can combine with optimal heat pump and thermal storage technologies to meet the heating and cooling needs of UK buildings and industrial processes. Heating and cooling produces more than one third of the UK's CO2 emissions and represent about 50% of overall energy demand. BEIS have concluded that heat networks could supply up to 20% of building heat demand by 2050. Heat networks have previously used high temperature hot water to serve buildings and processes but now 4th generation networks seek to use much lower temperatures to make more sources available and reduce losses. Lot-NET will go further by integrating low temperature (LT) networks with heat pump technologies and thermal storage to maximise waste and ambient heat utilisation. There are several advantages of using LT heat networks combined with heat pumps: - They can reuse heat currently wasted from a wide variety of sources in urban environments, e.g. data centres, sewage, substation transformers, low grade industrial reject heat. - Small heat pumps at point of use can upgrade temperature for radiators with minimal electricity use and deleterious effect on the electricity grid. - Industrial high temperature waste can be 'multiplied' by thermal heat pumps increasing the energy into the LT network. - By operating the heat network at lower temperatures, system losses are reduced. Heat source availability is often time dependant. Lot-NET will overcome the challenges of time variation and how to apply smart control and implementation strategies. Thermal storage will be incorporated to reduce the peak loads on electricity networks. The wider use of LT heat networks will require appropriate regulation to support both businesses and customers and Lot-NET will both need to inform and be aware of such regulatory changes. The barrier of initial financial investment is supported by BEIS HNIP but the commercial aspects are still crucial to implementation. Thus, the aim of LoT-NET is to prove a cost-effective near-zero emissions solution for heating and cooling that realises the huge potential of waste heat and renewable energies by utilising a combination of a low-cost low-loss flexible heat distribution network together with novel input, output and storage technologies. Ulster will develop vapour compression booster heat pump technologies

  • Modelling, optimisation and experimental study of distributed energy storage

    Funder: Royal Society and China (NSFC)
    Duration: 01 March 2016 – 28 February 2018
    Staff Involved: Dr Ye Huang, Dr Mingjun Huang, Prof Neil Hewitt

    International Exchanges Scheme – RS-China (NSFC) Cost share is a 2 years project funded by Royal Society, the Newton Mobility grants and National Natural Science Foundation of China. The major aim of the project is to develop an integrated distributed energy storage (DES) for reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by encouraging renewable electricity generation for large scale installations. This project will focus on (local level) distributed energy storage design and optimisation. Process modelling will be carried out on a small scale power system using device performance data. The results will be validated by experiments. A thorough techno-economic and Life Cycle analysis will be conducted within the full energy supply chain. In order to facilitate research partnerships between UK and China, researcher from Ulster University and Institute of Engineering Thermophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences will work together in design, implementation and optimisation.

  • Novel building Integration Designs for increased Efficiencies in Advanced Climatically Tunable Renewable Energy Systems (IDEAS)

    Funder: H2020-LC-SC3-RES-4-2018 - Renewable energy system integrated at the building scale
    Duration: 1st May 2019 – 30th April 2022
    Staff Involved: Dr M Huang, Prof NJ Hewitt

    The IDEAS project will create an innovative building integrated renewable energy system (RES) which will cost effectively exceed current RES efficiencies, generating electricity, heat and cooling and optimised for multifamily, public and commercial buildings in different climatic conditions. Ulster will develop and evaluate components of these systems.

  • Pelletisation (READ)

    Funder: Invest NI
    Duration: 03 February 2014 – 02 February 2017
    Staff Involved: M Anderson

    This 3 year project investigated pelletisation techniques for mixed fuels including biomass and various fossil fuels. Pelletisation would develop fuels that would remain stable during a combustion and gasification so that the full combustion and/or gasification process can be achieved. The pelletisation process developed by the industrial partners produced a range of size and types of pellets that were tested by Ulster.

    • Pellet testing in combustion and gasification
    • Recommendations on pellet size and content
    • Testing of new pellets and evaluation of results
  • Performance and emission studies on biofuel blended with high oxygen storage capacity nanoparticles using an indirect injection engine

    Funder: UKIERI
    Duration: 01 January 2015 – 31 March 2016
    Staff Involved: Dr P Pimenidou, Dr J Mondol, Dr Y Huang, Prof N Hewitt, Dr N Shah

    Working with IIT Guwahati, Ulster and Guwahati developed additives and surface treatments for engines operating with liquid biofuels. Combinations of analysis tools e.g. TGA and FTIR examined post combustion products finding that unburnt hydrocarbons, NOx and CO emissions were almost eliminated.

  • REEWise Village: Fostering and facilitating energy citizenship development in local communities

    Funder: CEC NPP Northern Periphery & Arctic Pro
    Duration: 01 January 2016 to 31 January 2019
    Staff Involved: Steven Devlin, Prof NJ Hewitt

    This project considered measures to develop local building retrofit strategies to deliver decarbonisation. Two scales of energy efficiency were considered.  Small scale order of retrofit in homes and larger scale order of retrofit of heat networks.  For small scale applications, Ulster University addressed assessment of homes and generated an affordable investment plan for social landlords/home occupiers in reducing and possibly decarbonising energy.  A number of houses were to be addressed over the length of the project using local products.  Large scale heat networks will again follow a similar plan of first identifying an affordable investment pathway for local government to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions through movement of waste heat.

  • Renewable energy and storage for industrial and farming applications

    Funder: Invest NI - CASE
    Duration: 01 April 2018 to 30 September 2018
    Staff Involved: Dr Y Huang, Dr A Zacharopoulos

    The Hybrid Solar Thermal project uses solar thermal panels on sites of utility scale to transfer the sun’s energy to a heat transfer fluid. A part of the heat is then fed into the greenhouse for space heating purposes. The majority of the heat from solar thermal panels will be delivered to a seasonal thermal energy storage (STES) during the day and to be used to heat the greenhouse in the evening, during the cloudy weather or any time up to around 6 months later via the heat pump system. The heat from STES is also supplied to a nearby use, in a long-established cheese factory. In most cases, we expect to need to build the suitable use on site. Given that the sites are in rural locations, the building for the use should be sympathetic to its context, in planning terms. The solar thermal system is also a hybrid system that uses other fuels (e.g. biomass and bio-gas) as supplementary energy during periods of low solar radiation. The main areas to be developed include a solar energy to heat conversion array, STES, the heat pump system and heat flow monitoring and control units.

  • SCARLET - scale-up of calcium carbonate looping technology for efficient CO2 capture from power and industrial plants

    Funder: EU FP7
    Duration: 01 April 2014 – 31 March 2017
    Staff Involved: Dr Ye Huang, Dr David McIlveen-Wright, Prof Neil Hewitt

    Scarlet a 3-year research project funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme with the aim to obtain reliable information and tools for the scale-up of the Calcium Carbonate Looping (CCL) process and pre-engineering of a 20 MWth CCL plant by continuous self-sustaining pilot plant operation. The project will provide a techno-economic and environmental assessment of this high potential technology for CO2 capture from power plants as well as cement and steel production plants. Furthermore the fundamental expertise required for the scale-up and integration of pre-commercialisation CCL facilities is provided.

    The following key objectives have been defined for the SCARLET project:

    * The key process parameters and control strategies shall be identified by testing the CCL process aiming at a target of at least 90 % CO2 capture and an efficiency penalty less than 3.5 % points.

    * Scale-up tools and guidelines for CCL reactor design and process layout shall be developed and validated by experimental data of the pilot plant.

    * The design and risk assessment of a 20 MWth CCL pilot plant to be built should be carried out.

    * The techno-economic and environmental analysis of the CCL application to hard coal and lignite fired power plants as well as cement and steel industry at commercial full scale shall be determined.

  • SCARLET: Scale-up of Calcium Carbonate Looping Technological for Efficient CO2 Capture

    Funder: EU FP7
    Duration: 01 April 2014 – 31 March 2017
    Staff Involved: Dr Ye Huang, Dr David McIlveen-Wright, Prof Neil Hewitt

    Scarlet a 3-year research project funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme with the aim to obtain reliable information and tools for the scale-up of the Calcium Carbonate Looping (CCL) process and pre-engineering of a 20 MWth CCL plant by continuous self-sustaining pilot plant operation. The project will provide a techno-economic and environmental assessment of this high potential technology for CO2 capture from power plants as well as cement and steel production plants. Furthermore the fundamental expertise required for the scale-up and integration of pre-commercialisation CCL facilities is provided.

    The following key objectives have been defined for the SCARLET project:

    • The key process parameters and control strategies shall be identified by testing the CCL process aiming at a target of at least 90 % CO2 capture and an efficiency penalty less than 3.5 % points.
    • Scale-up tools and guidelines for CCL reactor design and process layout shall be developed and validated by experimental data of the pilot plant.
    • The design and risk assessment of a 20 MWth CCL pilot plant to be built should be carried out.
    • The techno-economic and environmental analysis of the CCL application to hard coal and lignite fired power plants as well as cement and steel industry at commercial full scale shall be determined.
  • Senergy Demonstrator

    Funder: CASE - InvestNI
    Duration: 30 September 2016 to 31 July 2018
    Staff Involved: Dr A Zacharopoulos, Dr J Mondol, Dr MA Smyth

    Space heating and domestic hot water in buildings accounts for about half of all energy use in Europe and generates significant CO2 emissions. Solar thermal systems have a significant role to play in reducing fossil fuel consumption as they can be installed on the building and supply heat directly to meet a proportion of its thermal energy demands. Low cost uncovered solar water heaters made from black plastic materials (~£20/m2) are popular for swimming pool heating but are unable to achieve sufficiently high temperatures for producing domestic hot water when located in cold and windy climates. Conventional solar water heaters typically cost ~£200/m2 and are constructed from selectively coated metal absorbers with glass covers (eg flat plate or evacuated tube collectors). These often compete with photovoltaic installations (PV) for roof space and are commonly perceived as being more complicated to install. Ongoing PV price reductions (£150/m2) and an increasing trend of utilizing excess electrical output for domestic hot water production has placed immense pressure on the market for solar thermal systems in Europe and North America.

  • Senergy demonstrator

    Funder: Invest NI
    Duration: 15 October 2016 – 31 August 2018
    Staff Involved: Dr Aggelos Zacharopoulos, Dr Jayanta Mondol and Dr Mervyn Smyth

    The Senergy solar thermal collector is a low cost polymer system with incorporated Carbon Nano-Tubes (CNTs) for improved thermal performance and mechanical strength. The project aims to demonstrate the Senergy technology as an innovative and cost-effective solution for building integration which can provide a high share of heating supplied from solar energy. Through long term performance evaluation in realistic conditions and detailed techno-economic analysis of a Senergy collector array the project will advance the technology to near commercialisation (TRL 7) to form a low-risk investment proposition

  • Small smart sustainable systems for future domestic hot water (4S-DHW)

    Funder: RCUK/EPSRC
    Duration: 01 March 2016 to 28 February 2019
    Staff Involved: Professor NJ Hewitt

    The purpose of the proposed research programme is to address the challenge of providing domestic hot water (DHW) using low carbon heat pump technology given the overwhelming trend away from conventional hot water tanks in homes and the inability of present heat pumps to provide instant hot water.

    We intend to develop a suite of heat pump / storage / control technologies, using either electricity or gas that function without conventional storage cylinders and can deliver energy efficient affordable hot water to a wide range of dwellings well into the future.

    Ulster will use a novel compressor being developed by industrial partner Emerson that has an exceptional range of running speeds, enabling the same device to either deliver e.g. 25 kW for instantaneous hot water or 10 kW or less for space heating. This would be used in conjunction with a small buffer store to overcome the delay in start-up before hot water is available.

    Present gas fired heat pumps (both commercial and under development at Warwick) are easier to modulate but are physically large if delivering 20 or 30 kW and also have a long start up time (5 minutes). The Warwick goal is to use new composite adsorbent heat exchangers to reduce start up time to one minute, even when meeting a 25 kW load and to reduce key component sizes to achieve a compact system.

    Thermal storage is a vital part of DHW provision by heat pumps. A small buffer store may be needed to overcome starting transients, or a large capacity store might be needed to provide a bath-full of water quickly. An intermediate capacity store might work together with a heat pump to meet peak loads. Our research will encompass buffers, compact PCM stores that could be sited in unused spaces such as corners in kitchens and 'flat' stores using vacuum or aerogel insulation that could fit under kitchen cabinets or other available unused spaces.

    To bring this all together into a range of integrated systems suited to different housing types etc there needs to be both an understanding of the consumer's needs and preferences plus a smart adaptive control system. In addition to data in the literature we have access to data from detailed monitoring studies previously carried out by Loughborough. Consumer preferences will be investigated by the use of surveys carried out by the User Centred Design Research Group at Loughborough Design School.

    Ulster will assume overall responsibility for sensor choice, control hardware and software. They will devise a system controller that adapts to and meets consumer needs in an optimal way. In the long term this will be part of a house-wide wirelessly linked system including 'wet' appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines and 'smart taps' that communicate with the DHW system so that it responds optimally to the size and type of load demanded.

  • Small Smart Sustainable Systems for future Domestic Hot Water (4S-DHW)

    Funder: UKRI-EPSRC - Thermal Energy Challenge
    Duration: 01 March 2016 to 28 February 2018
    Staff Involved: Prof N Hewitt

    The purpose of the proposed research programme was to address the challenge of providing domestic hot water (DHW) using low carbon heat pump technology given the overwhelming trend away from conventional hot water tanks in homes and the inability of present heat pumps to provide instant hot water. Ulster used a novel compressor developed by industrial partner Emerson that has an exceptional range of running speeds, enabling the same device to either deliver e.g. 25 kW for instantaneous hot water or 10 kW or less for space heating. This was used in conjunction with a small buffer store to overcome the delay in start-up before hot water is available.

  • SolaFin2Go - Solar Finance to Go

    Funder: UKRI-EPSRC
    Duration: 02 January 2018 to 01 January 2019
    Staff Involved: Dr J Mondol, Dr A Zacharopoulos, Dr MA Smyth

    The SolaFin2Go project addressed the challenge of providing standalone solar systems to make available cost effective and affordable access to electricity and thermal hot water for off-grid households in sub-Saharan Africa. The objective was to test the feasibility of 'entry level' technological solutions combining novel PV and solar thermal technologies financed through improved business PAYG models (enabled by the innovative FinTech platform through Mobile, Cloud and Blockchain technologies) that fit with household/community circumstances to provide basic electrification and hot water. Combining the partner technologies, resources and knowledge in this study has the potential to create a viable, cost effective off grid standalone solar solution to meet many of the challenges identified by the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative and directly relates to the Botswana Off Grid Plan and Energy Efficiencies plan. This unique project combines traditional PV systems with battery storage and solar thermal technologies packaged together under an energy, payment and customer management platform that has customer relationship at the heart of the finance model and also has significant potential to add to economic momentum in rural communities and to Transform Energy Access (TEA) for all. Ulster has developed novel, affordable integrated solar energy devices delivering electricity and hot water.

  • SolaNetwork

    Funder: EPSRC
    Duration: 1st June 2019 – 31st May 2021
    Staff Involved: Dr J Mondol, Dr MA Smyth, Dr A Zacharopoulos

    The SolaNetwork project builds upon the successful demonstration of ‘entry level’ energy access technology developed in the SolaFin2Go project that addressed the challenge of providing standalone solar systems to make available affordable clean electricity and hot water for off-grid households in rural sub-Saharan Africa. SolaNetwork will implement scaled-up deployments of standalone Solafin2go technologies interconnected to form physical and virtual node-to-node networks with two-way information transfer that facilitate energy service delivery and provide essential business intelligence. A not-for-profit Distributed Energy Service Company (DESCO) will be set up to operate and maintain the stand-alone units and grid network; manage and administer electricity trading between community prosumers; and deliver targeted training to promote off-grid solutions and develop local capacity in the sector. The DESCO will enable long-term real-world validation of SolaFin2go energy service business models to provide certainty for investors in future initiatives.

  • SPIRE 2: The Storage Platform for the Integration of Renewable Energy

    Funder: INTERREG VA
    Duration: 01 April 2017 to 31 March 2022
    Staff Involved: Prof NJ Hewitt, Prof PW Griffiths, Dr A Zacharopoulos, Dr C Brandoni, Dr M Huang, Dr P Keatley, Dr Y Huang, Mr S Devlin, Mr D McLarnon

    SPIRE 2 will address how consumer-owned energy storage can resolve the problem of the variability of renewable energy (RE) output. The project will explore how homes and businesses can store renewable energy effectively, allowing very high levels of RE to be integrated into power grids globally, at the same time as maximising the benefits to consumers. SPIRE 2 will aim to evaluate, develop and facilitate the wide-scale deployment of Mass Energy Storage (MES) technologies to operate profitably in new market structures of UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The project will generate a deeper understanding of the role and commercial viability of MES in enabling increasing levels of intermittent power generation.

  • SPIRE 2: The Storage Platform for the Integration of Renewable Energy (PhD Costs)

    Funder: INTERREG VA
    Duration: 01 April 2017 to 31 March 2022
    Staff Involved: Prof NJ Hewitt, Prof PW Griffiths, Dr A Zacharopoulos, Dr C Brandoni, Dr M Huang, Dr P Keatley, Dr Y Huang, Mr S Devlin, Mr D McLarnon

    Supporting costs for PhD students working in SPIRE 2.

  • STEP - Solar Tri-generation Energy Package

    Funder: Invest NI
    Duration: 01 July 2014 – 08 August 2014
    Staff Involved: Dr J Mondol, Dr A Zacharopoulos, Dr MA Smyth

  • Storage Platform for the Integration of Renewable Energy (SPIRE 2)

    Duration: 01 March 2017 – 31 December 2021
    Staff Involved:
    Prof N Hewitt, Prof P Griffiths, Dr Y Huang, Dr M Huang, Dr C Brandoni, Dr A Zacharopoulos, Mr D McLarnon, Dr P Keatley, Mr S Devlin

    The project will focus on how the wide-scale deployment of mass energy storage can allow very high levels of renewable energy to be integrated into power grids globally. Variable renewable energy resources (e.g. wind and wave) cannot be controlled, and require measures such as energy storage to integrate them into existing power grids. Energy can be stored in bulk using large-scale storage, or at smaller scales using mass energy storage devices, owned and operated by domestic and business consumers. Ireland, NI and Scotland have among the best wind, wave and tidal resources in the world and are regarded globally as a test bed for the deployment of services and technologies to manage very high levels of variable renewable energy.

    Find out more at ulster.ac.uk/spire2

  • SUBB: Sustainable Underutilised Biomass Boiler Fuels

    Funder: Invest NI CASE
    Duration: 04 January 2016 to 31 March 2018
    Staff Involved: Dr C Brandoni

    There is an opportunity for Northern Ireland to take a stake in its own energy future, by utilising previously un-explored purpose grown and incidental agricultural biproducts. Within Northern Ireland, there are known to be considerable quantities of biomass materials, for example forestry and aboricultural risings, manufacturing process by-products and agri-food chain wastes, that may have potential as biomass fuels. There are a possible 700,000 tonnes of these materials available on a continuous basis within the country. There may be potential to utilise low-energy content fuels to blend with higher energy fuels, especially if the former is a low-cost product that meets the other criteria for biomass fuels. Laboratory analysis allowed the determination of the Gross Energy, also known as the Gross Calorific Value (GCV) or the Higher Heating Value (HHV) of current and potential fuels.

  • Total Energy Management for Production Operations (TEMPO) - Stage 3

    Funder: Enterprise Ireland/IERC
    Duration: 01 September 2014 – 31 August 2015
    Staff Involved: Prof LP Maguire, Dr Y Huang, Prof N Hewitt

    The Total Energy Management for Production Operations (TEMPO) research project focussed on establishing an effective way of monitoring total energy consumption during the manufacturing process, so as to reduce overall energy costs.  The results of the research allowed international and indigenous companies to significantly reduce their energy costs by helping them reduce their energy bills.  This was achieved by helping the companies to understanding where excess energy is being used. TEMPO evaluated energy use data from a large production facility, taking their general data and applying Ulster’ techno-economic simulator ECLIPSE and linking this with an intelligent systems approach to understanding the timings and amounts of energy used in individual processes.

  • Zero-in on NI Heat

    It involves collaboration between women representatives from key energy sector organisations and academia, specifically: policy makers (Department for the Economy), utility regulators (UREGNI), renewables industry (NIRIG), transmission and distribution networks (SONI and NI Electricity Networks), consumer representatives (NEANI, Consumer Council NI), leading public affairs consultancy (STRATAGEM) and Ulster University.

    The recent announcement by Environment Minister Claire Perry, with potential commitment the UK to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, means that all UK jurisdictions will have to define strategies for this target.

    NI has abundant renewable energy resources, high dependence on oil heating (62% of domestic sector), poorly developed gas networks and high rates of fuel poverty (42%). These features present opportunities for developing decarbonisation pathways towards the 2050 target and highlight the paramount importance of research in relation to decarbonisation of heat sector.

    This project will aim to initiate the development of NI’s unique pathways to heat decarbonisation.

    Objectives

    The primary goal of this project is to form a network with a focus on:

    1. collaboration between women representatives from key energy sector organisations and academia
    2. identifying and investigating the barriers and opportunities towards the decarbonisation of heat in Northern Ireland.

    Its specific aims and objectives are to:

    1. Initiate a discussion between energy stakeholders, the energy industry and consumer/business representatives on the decarbonisation of heat in Northern Ireland and support interactions and dialogue between such groups
    2. Gain a better understanding of the knowledge and skills which exist in relation to the decarbonisation of heat in NI and any relevant work currently being undertaken
    3. Investigate barriers and opportunities in relation to the decarbonisation of the heat sector in Northern Ireland
    4. Use information and evidence to create a wider awareness of heat decarbonisation issues among other stakeholders and decision makers in order to help inform and realise future environmental, social and economic benefits from heat decarbonisation
    5. Increase the voice of women in the Northern Ireland energy sector

    Project Team

    Dr Inna Vorushylo

    Lecturer in Energy Markets and Energy Storage

    Belfast School of Architecture & the Be


    Professor Neil Hewitt

    Head of Belfast School of Architecture & the Built Environment

    Belfast School of Architecture & the Be



    Dr Stephanie Ogunrin

    Research Associate in Energy Modelling

    Belfast School of Architecture & the Be


    Steering Committee

    NameRole Company/ Organisation
    Edel Creery Connections Manager NI Electricity Networks
    Fiona McCausland Head of Energy Efficiency Branch Department for the Economy (DfE)
    Grainne Walsh Head of consultancy STRATAGEM
    Lisa O’Neill Network Connection Design Engineer NI Electricity Networks
    Meabh Cormacain Manager Renewable Industrial Group NI
    Orla Gray Energy Policy Advisor UREGNI
    Pat Austin Director NEA NI
    Roisin McLaughlin Head of Network Operations at the Utility Regulator UREGNI
    Sarah Foster Access Planning Engineer SONI
    Sinead Dynan Director Consumer Council

    The steering committee is made up of experts and stakeholders in aspects of energy.

    They are devoted to using their knowledge, skills and experience to provide input to the consideration of barriers, opportunities and pathways for the decarbonisation of Northern Ireland.

    The members are committed to using their expertise and knowledge on various aspects of energy to engage with other experts and stakeholders through the project’s workshops.

    Their specific roles are to:

    1. Provide the project with strategic advice and input on heat decarbonisation and interrelated energy issues, reflecting the specific characteristics and circumstances of the Northern Ireland energy sector and consumers
    2. To provide a challenge function and act as a sounding board on specific areas of work relevant to the project
    3. To attend meetings as per an agreed schedule as well as workshops and launch event
    4. Actively participate in meetings through discussion, and review of papers and other Expert Panel documents
    5. Ensure input is provided to the Chair in a timely manner to ensure that the project can be delivered to plan
    6. Act on opportunities to communicate positively about the project
    7. Work with the Chair to ensure that the project is aligned with the UKERC objectives
    8. Provide input and advice on networking workshops/focus groups, networking questionnaires and the launch event – including, for example the format, key speakers, key questions

    Workshops

    This project will feature a series of workshops aiming at creation of discussion and dialog between various market stakeholders, support awareness of heat decarbonisation issues.

    The themes and dates for the workshops are:

    Workshop I

    “Barriers and opportunities for residential heat decarbonisation in Northern Ireland” 13 February 2019

    Workshop II

    "Opportunities and challenges for non-residential heat decarbonisation" 19  March 2019

    Workshop III

    "Heat infrastructure as a key milestone for heat decarbonisation" 12 June 2019

    Workshop IV

    "Energy policy and Regulation for efficient and timely heat decarbonisation in Northern Ireland"  18 September 2019

    Culmination

    This project will culminate with the Final seminar (17 October), where we will share the key outputs of the project and invite leading industry experts to present their visions for heat decarbonisation in Northern Ireland and beyond.

    Register

    In order to register for the first workshop and/or express your interest in the forthcoming workshops, please, email us:

    Dr Ruchira Ghosh r.ghosh@ulster.ac.uk or Dr Stephanie Ogunrin s.ogunrin@ulster.ac.uk

    Dr Ruchira Ghosh

    Research Associate in Acceptability Low Carbon Technologies

    Belfast School of Architecture & the Be


    Dr Stephanie Ogunrin

    Research Associate in Energy Modelling

    Belfast School of Architecture & the Be