• Project aims to change lives of Ukrainians by developing affordable cascade heat pumps
• Many Ukraine homes have outdated heating systems which waste energy
• The University has received more than £250k funding from Innovate UK.
An Aston University research project is to help improve living conditions in Ukraine by developing a warmer and greener system of heating homes.
In Ukraine many buildings have outdated and inefficient heating systems which not only waste energy but also limit the use of modern heating technologies.
The project aims to change the lives of many Ukrainians by developing affordable cascade heat pumps. These will efficiently heat homes, even during the severe Ukrainian winter, during which temperatures usually range between 2C to -4.8C but can reach as low -21.6C.
The University has received more than a quarter of a million pounds funding from Innovate UK to develop cascade heat pumps which provide efficient heating, cost savings, environmental protection and energy security. The award is part of £890,670 in overall funding.
The Aston University team, led by Dr Muhammad Imran, senior lecturer in engineering and technology, will design and construct a highly efficient heat pump capable of providing hot water for heating, even in extremely cold weather conditions.
Dr Imran explained: “Cascade heat pumps use two pairs of compression cycles with a smaller compression ratio at each cycle and exhibit better compression efficiency in comparison to a single-stage cycle.
“They are suitable for providing high temperature hot water for space heating under a wide range of outdoor air temperatures - even under severely cold outdoor weather conditions.”
The new heat pumps will be able to save energy and reduce Ukraine’s dependence on natural gas for heating, decreasing its reliance on imports. The researchers will explore using CO2, an environmentally friendly gas to improve the heat pump's efficiency and reduce its environmental impact.
The project will also benefit the country’s economy by boosting jobs in its manufacturing and engineering sectors.
The two year project will include international partners the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and pump specialists VDE.
Dr Abed Alaswad, who is also a senior lecturer in engineering and technology, said: “We were delighted to be awarded the funding to pursue this research.
“It will give us the opportunity to collaborate with other experts who have experience in heat pump development and a track record in innovative projects such as using mine water and sewage for heating, which will enhance project outcomes.
“Exploring the use of CO2 is one of three key innovations. The other two are the modular design of the heat pumps which will address diverse heating and cooling needs across residential, industrial, and commercial sectors.
“The other is predictive control strategy - a "smart control" system that seamlessly manages the transition between heating and cooling modes. This predictive control strategy optimises system performance, ensuring energy-efficient operation and user convenience.”
Dr Imran and Dr Alaswad are based at the University’s Engineering for Sustainable Development Research Centre, which is part of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.
The project dual heat pump for residential buildings work will start on 1st April 2024.
- Notes to editors
About Aston University
For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.
Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.
Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.
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