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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N007557/1
Title: Active-LIVing Envelopes (ALIVE)
Principal Investigator: Shukla, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Phase Change Material Products Limited TAS Eco systems Tata Group UK
Department: Ctr for Low Impact Buildings
Organisation: Coventry University
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 April 2016 Ends: 30 November 2017 Value (£): 100,277
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Building Ops & Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy Construction
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Aug 2015 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 5 August 2015 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The UK Government is committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% (from the 1990 baseline) by 2050. There is therefore an urgent need for a radical reduction in the UK dependence on fossil fuel based heating in buildings. The vital role of the building envelope in building energy efficiency and thermal comfort has long been recognized, though until recently, all effort and attention has been focused on optimising the insulation and envelope components. It has become evident that new and more innovative ideas and technologies are needed to improve the energy efficiency of existing envelopes. The benefits from such innovative technologies are of extreme importance as the building envelope plays a major role in the energy flow in and out of buildings. The building envelope also offers significant opportunities to exploit solar energy through integrating solar thermal technologies into the buildings.

Many different approaches have been adopted to reduce energy consumption in the built environment, including insulation, on-site renewable energy generation and storage. The active generation of energy from building integrated structures has been largely confined to a few countries. Research has shown the potential for active generation of solar thermal energy and its integration into the built environment, but this approach is not widely accepted in industry due to complexity, design criteria and high initial cost.

This project develops previous theoretical work on responsive building envelopes by Dr. Shukla, PI of the proposed project. The proposed design incorporates many novel features, and its in-lab performance will be tested and evaluated. The basis of the proposed envelope system utilises a perforated metal profile attached to the exterior of a building, and an underlying layer of heat storage material separated by an air gap. Initial research and simulation suggests that total energy savings in the range of 30-50% can be achieved, depending upon the type of building and set point temperature used in UK buildings. The proposed design operates close to ambient temperature, thus using solar and ambient energy to warm and cool the building envelope more efficiently by minimising losses. The design of the perforated metal profile will provide enough buoyancy force through a temperature gradient across the metal profile to move air through correctly positioned gaps at a very low velocity and so maximise the benefits of the system. For the required heat transfer between air and heated boundary layer of ALIVE, it is vital that the approach air velocity is low. This will also provide enough time for the PCM to store surplus energy that can be released to heat or cool the building as required. The heated boundary layer across the building envelope will also help in minimising heat loss from the building envelope. The proposed building envelope has the potential to significantly reduce the thickness of insulation used in buildings.

This project has been developed by the PI after discussion with industry partners working in the area of sustainable building envelope design, active generation of energy from building integrated structures and potential users of the proposed technology that includes housing organisations. The proposed research project will consist of three main elements; numerical simulations and mathematical modelling, indoor testing and electrical simulations to determine optimum performance of the system and environmental and economic assessment of the technology. The use of PCM in the envelope design will also be investigated to determine how the introduction of this material affects heat transfer between the building envelope and the micro-climate created around the building. The project will include a detailed analysis of the proposed system through lab testing, numerical simulation and mathematical modelling to evaluate the performance of the system.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.cov.ac.uk