Loughborough University have created new test facilities to develop high performance insulation materials and façade systems for improved building energy performance. Innovative building envelope systems can help to reduce building energy loads and generate electricity and heat. Non-concentrating solar thermal collectors are generally available in two forms, flat plate or evacuated tube.
Recently, a third configuration, the evacuated flat plate, has attracted interest due to the enhanced performance and aesthetic characteristics. By isolating a solar absorber in a vacuum space heat loss from the absorber can be minimised resulting in improved efficiency. In addition, the improved thermal insulation performance of evacuated panels over conventional glazing systems makes them attractive solutions for integrating into energy efficient building façades. The work undertaken within this facility has focused on supporting the development of new façade systems for industrial applications to develop vacuum glazing that is cost effective, robust and pass the stringent tests in the testing chambers. New façade elements will play a critical role in buildings contributing to the UK’s drive towards net zero.
The faciliies have recently been used extensively to support the Small, Smart, Sustainable Systems for Domestic Hot Water project (4S-DHW). This project addressed the challenge of providing domestic hot water using low carbon heat pump technology given the move away from conventional hot water tanks in homes and the inability of current heat pumps to provide instant hot water. The results of the project could be implemented in a large number of buildings and is currently going through a patent application process. Many other prototype systems are currently available at Loughborough and are being actively engaged on research projects. These include new PV cell materials and thin film costings all of which have all been developed within these facilities.