Durham research for decarbonising heat receives over £4 million in funding


DURHAM University has won major funding for three new research projects to decarbonise heat which will significantly reduce UK greenhouse gas emissions.

Researchers in Durham Energy Institute (DEI) will develop technology and processes to decarbonise heating and cooling across homes, businesses and industry.

Solar energy can provide heat without greenhouse gas emissions, but only one per cent of this is used in the UK as heating is in less demand when the sun is shining.

A three-year project, led by DEI Fellow Dr Zhiwei Ma, will develop a new system to store thermal energy from solar panels so the energy can be used to heat homes and businesses in the winter.

The system will produce carbon emissions that are approximately 92 per cent and 85 per cent lower than current gas boiler and electric heat pump technology.

The £1.04 million project will develop an advanced hybrid thermochemical energy storage and vapour-compression refrigeration system which will enhance the efficiency, capability and flexibility of solar energy storage and heat pumping.

Led by DEI Fellow Dr Andrew Smallbone, this £1.16million international network will bring together researchers, technology developers, managers and policy makers to share progress, knowledge and fund new research projects for decarbonising heating and cooling.

The network includes universities, industrial bodies and governance organisations including the European Energy Research Alliance, Durham County Council, E.ON Energy Solutions Ltd and the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC).

In 2018 low temperature industrial process heat was responsible for over 30 per cent of total industrial primary energy use in the UK, with 75 per cent produced by burning oil, gas and coal.

DELTA PHI is a £2million, three-year project involving a number of UK universities which will develop an energy network using specialised chemicals for drying and purifying air and other gases so it can then be transported.

Waste heat at different temperatures will be harvested at multiple locations and then energy will be stored, distributed and released at different sites for use in dehumidification and cooling.

A University spokesperson commented: “If the UK is to achieve its aim of reaching net-zero carbon by 2050, decarbonising heat will be essential and these new projects will drive us towards this goal.”