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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X029050/1
Title: A Pioneering, Near-Zero-Carbon and All-Climate-Adaptive Air Conditioning System Using Atmospheric Latent Heat and Natural Light Energy
Principal Investigator: Zhao, Professor X
Other Investigators:
Rotchell, Professor JM Ma, Dr X Gibson, Professor BK
Zhu, Dr Z
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Carbon-Tex CIBSE Environmental Process Systems Ltd
Hull City Council World Refrigeration Day
Department: Energy and Environment Institute
Organisation: University of Hull
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2023 Ends: 28 February 2027 Value (£): 814,323
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Building Ops & Management Energy Efficiency
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 Feb 2023 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 8 and 9 February 2023 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Air conditioning (AC) is one of the major energy systems applied globally with a market size of around £80 billion per annum. Current AC technologies require large amounts of electrical or thermal energy, accounting for 20% global electricity consumption and resulting in 1,100 mega-tons of carbon emission.

The project aims to establish a scientific foundation for a pioneering, near-zero-carbon and all-climate-adaptive AC system. Compared to existing AC technologies (i.e. mechanical vapour compression, absorption, and adsorption types), the new AC system leads to over 80%-90% energy bills saving, and near-zero carbon emission. Unlike existing evaporative cooling AC systems which only suit arid climates, the new AC will be all-climate-adaptive.

Novelties of the research lie in: (1) The best performing sorption, diffusion, air-tight and light-absorptive materials will be identified and/or refined; (2) A unique sorption/desorption bed comprising an air-flow-interactive sorption layer and a light-absorptive desorption layer will be developed; (3) A bespoke natural light harvesting configuration to deliver a controlled light radiation into the desorption layer surface; (4) The latest Fractal theory in the first attempt to a multi-medium/sized porous block instead of the traditional single medium/sized porous block; (5) A unique multiple-scale light simulation model, which integrate a non-sequential ray tracing method for simulating the macro-scale light and a finite-difference time-domain method for simulating the light-moisture interaction on the porous desorption surface; (6) A novel 'life-cycle-cooling-cost' oriented optimisation method.

The project research programme includes: (1) Screening, refinement, characterisation and selection of the sorption/desorption materials, and determination of the composition/combination methods of the selected materials; (2) Establishment of the theoretical foundation for the light collection/transmission/distribution and light-moisture interaction and conduction of associated computer simulation modelling; (3) Establishment of the theoretical foundation and computer models for moisture adsorption, permeation, diffusion and vaporisation within the porous 'moisture-breathing' bed, and optimisation of the structure of the 'moisture-breathing' bed; (4) Optimisation of the integrated operation between the light-driven 'moisture-breathing' bed and dew point air cooler using the 'life-cycle-cooling-cost' oriented method; and investigation of the AC's building integration approach; and (5) Construction/testing of the AC prototype (including microbial hazard control) and validation/refinement of the integrated AC computer model.

The proposed research will be carried out by a cross-university and multi-disciplinary team comprising Prof. Xudong Zhao of UHULL who is the world-class academic specialised in heating, cooling, renewable energy and energy efficiency, Prof. Semali Perera of Bath who is a leading scientist specialised in porous sorption/desorption materials, Prof. Barry Crittenden who is a Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering specialising in adsorption and membranes, Dr Carmelo Herdes who is specialized in molecular simulations, experiments and characterization of sorption/desorption materials and molecular transport with industrial relevance, Prof. Brad Gilbon of UHULL who is an internationally recognised optical scientist, Prof. Jeanette Rotchell of UHULL who is a leading scientist specialised in environmental biology, Dr. Xiaoli Ma of UHULL who has expertise in renewable energy and dew point cooling, and Dr. Zishang Zhu of UHULL who is specialised in integrating renewable energy system into buildings. The project team will be supported by FIVE UK industrial/governmental organisations.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.hull.ac.uk