EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in

Energy Resilience and the Built Environment

EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in

Energy Resilience and the Built Environment

EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment

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Fully-funded four-year PhD studentship at Loughborough University: Electrification of domestic space heating

PROJECT TITLE:

Electrification of domestic space heating

POSSIBLE SUPERVISORS:

D Allinson, K Lomas

CONTEXT (what is the wider social, political and technical context that leads to this work, why is it important):

Decarbonising the heating of homes is essential to a zero-carbon future. Replacing gas boilers with heat pumps driven by low-carbon electricity is a viable route forward. However, heat pumps have different characteristics to gas boilers and selecting the best alternative is not trivial. The choice will depend on technical factors such as the size of the home, the rate that it loses heat, and the availability of space inside and outside. It will also depend on social factors such as the size of the household, their heating preferences, and the amount of time they spend in their home. Selecting the right heat pump for a particular home and the household that live there is a complicated socio-technical problem. A good choice will result in a satisfied household and an advocate for heat pumps, while a poor choice could lead to thermal discomfort, high bills, and bad publicity.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

There are many different heat pump systems and many more different households. This project will start by identifying already-known problems and solutions. This could include speaking with installers and manufacturers of heat pumps, as well as households that have experience (good and bad) of living with them. This knowledge will form the basis of a new set of tools that can help a household to make the right choice for their home. The data required to use such tools should not be onerous, and so secondary data sources may be used to augment the process. For example, the size of homes and gardens could be extracted from google maps and the heat loss of the building fabric from existing EPCs. Questionnaires could be used to understand what the household wants from the system and anything they especially wish to avoid. For example, some households are particularly sensitive to noise or may have restrictions on the space that could be used. Evaluation of the tools developed through a real-world trial would complete the research, make a valuable contribution to the electrification of space heating and provide valuable insight for households, government, and the industry.

AIMS and OBJECTIVES:

The aim is to develop and evaluate the tools and techniques required to identify suitable electrical heating solutions for different homes and households.

The objectives are:

  1. To review the literature academic and grey literature on electrification of domestic heating and the performance of heat pumps.
  2. To engage with a wide range of stakeholders to better understand the potential enablers and barriers to electrification of heating.
  3. To gather primary and secondary data that can help identify the most effective heat pump system for different homes and households.
  4. To optimise and validate the approach using real world cases.

To publish the work in leading journals and as a PhD thesis.

METHODS: (Measurements, data sources, methods of analysis, etc)

The research will take apply a range of methods. Depending on the interests and skills of the applicant, these could include literature review, stakeholder engagement, analysis of secondary data, modelling of building performance, measuring building performance, experiments in test houses, and/or field trials.

EXPECTED OUTCOMES:

Government policy advisors, heat pump installation companies, and households will be better able to make informed choices about how to decarbonise home heating.

MULTIDISCIPLINARY ASPECTS (what different skills and knowledge will this project develop)

The work will take a socio-technical approach – developing knowledge of building physics alongside an understanding of what households need from their systems.

SKILLS and INTEREST REQUIRED OF STUDENT.

A keen interest in the technical and socio-technical aspects of domestic space heating.

Entry Requirements Applications are invited from graduates with a good bachelor’s degree (1st or 2:1) and/or a master’s degree in one of the following areas: physics, mathematics, engineering, chemistry, natural sciences, materials science, data analytics, computer science, statistics, architecture or other building and energy-related disciplines.
Funding Notes If you are an eligible UK or EU applicant, you will receive a stipend which is tax free, plus UK/EU fees for four years (conditions apply). The stipend at Loughborough University will be at least £15,609 (exact amount to be confirmed). During this round of advertising we are only accepting applications from those who meet the eligibility criteria for a full EPSRC award. The limited relaxation of student eligibility requirements is no longer available for 2021/22.
How to Apply Submit your application, including an outline research proposal, through the application portal here by 23:59 on 29 August 2021. When prompted, select the programme ‘Energy Resilience and the Built Environment’ and the study centre ‘EPSRC CDT Energy Resilience in the Built Environment’, and quote advert reference ‘ERBE21’. Mention the Project Title in your application. For help see here. Informal enquiries to Civ.Eng.Pgr@lboro.ac.uk.
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