Department of
Architecture and Built Environment

Image of Rabah Boukhanouf

Rabah Boukhanouf

Associate Professor, Faculty of Engineering



Dr. Boukhanouf is an Associate Professor with over 20 years of experience in teaching and research in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies, particularly in applications within the built environment. He holds a PhD in energy systems from the University of Manchester, UK. His teaching expertise includes developing, delivering, and convening modules on Sustainable and Energy Efficient Technologies for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Dr. Boukhanouf's research interests span the wider field of sustainable building technologies. He has led research projects funded by public and private agencies, focusing on the design, computer simulation, and laboratory prototyping of passive and active energy systems. These systems include co- and tri-generation systems, adsorption and absorption systems, evaporative cooling systems, thermal storage, heat pumps, heat recovery, and advanced heat transfer enabling technologies.

Dr Boukhanouf has supervised over 20 PhD theses and has published extensively in journals, conferences, and book chapters. Additionally, he is named as the inventor on six UK and international patents. Dr. Boukhanouf is a Chartered Engineer, a member of CIBSE, and an Associate Member of ASHRAE.

Buildings, Energy and Environment Research Group.

Expertise Summary

Professional Expertise

  • Design, modeling, and building/testing lab prototypes of energy-efficient systems and related enabling technologies.
  • HVAC technologies, heat recovery systems, and advanced heat transfer technologies such as heat pipes and heat and mass exchangers.
  • Developing small-scale heat and power generation systems.
  • Computer tools and software packages, including Matlab-Simulink, Flow3D, Icepak-Fluent, IES, and EnergyPro, for simulation and optimization of prototype design, as well as performing technical and economic feasibility assessments of low-carbon technologies.

Teaching Summary

With more than two decades of teaching experience spanning both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, I am deeply passionate about instilling knowledge in Energy Efficient and Sustainable… read more

Research Summary

My primary research focuses on energy-efficient and sustainable technologies, particularly their application in the built environment. these include:

  1. Design, Computer Modelling of solar assisted active cooling Systems
  2. Hybrid active/passive cooling systems for built environment
  3. Buildings energy consumption analysis for different climates

Selected Publications

I am also involved in many administrative roles within the department and university:

  • MSc programmes coordinator
  • Department Academic Integrity Officer
  • Member of Teaching and Learning Committee
  • Member of Health and Safety Committee

With more than two decades of teaching experience spanning both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, I am deeply passionate about instilling knowledge in Energy Efficient and Sustainable Technologies, particularly in their application within the Built Environment. My teaching duties include coordinating, delivering, and assessing the following modules:

  1. ABEE 4095 (Building Services Technology) Module: This module is designed for students enrolled in Building Performance Engineering (PGT, MSc) and 4th year Architecture Environment Engineering (UG) programs. It covers principles of heating systems (e.g., condensing boilers, combined heat and power, heat pumps), cooling systems (e.g., vapour compression and absorption chillers), ventilation heat recovery systems, and their environmental impacts. Throughout the module, students use IES-ve software for simulating these technologies in design case studies. Assessment is based on a written coursework, comprising group work and individual reports.
  2. ABEE 4104 (Principles of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficient Systems) Module: Open to students across MSc programs in the Faculty of Engineering, this module explores fundamental principles of renewable energy systems and efficient heating/cooling systems with a focus on the built environment. Assessment includes a written examination and a laboratory report.
  3. ABEE2039 (Electricity for the Built Environment) Module: This module is tailored for undergraduate students in years 1 of BEng/MEng Architectural Environment Engineering and MEng Architecture Environmental Design programs. It covers theoretical aspects of electrical systems and wiring practices in buildings according to BS7671.
  4. BEng/MEng/MSc Research Projects: I supervise research projects for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Over the years, I have successfully supervised more than 100 dissertation projects focusing on energy systems and Low Carbon Building Technologies.

My approach to teaching emphasises practical application, critical thinking, and preparing students to address current challenges in sustainable building technologies.

Past Research

Examples of Research Projects:

  1. Low Temperature Community Heat Networks (LTHN)

Context: Decarbonising the heat sector is pivotal in many countries' energy policy agendas for mitigating climate change and achieving carbon neutrality. This project aims to determine optimal supply and return temperatures for district heating (DH) networks and building heating systems. A novel methodology was developed to facilitate the implementation of low temperature district heating (LTDH) in existing buildings equipped with traditional high temperature radiators.

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  1. Regenerative Evaporative Cooling

Context: In hot and dry climates, energy consumption for building thermal comfort can comprise up to 50% (rising to 70% during peak hours) of total power demand. Traditional vapour compression systems, which dominate this market, are energy intensive and their performance declines in elevated ambient temperatures. This research focuses on developing a novel configuration of heat pipe-based indirect evaporative cooling systems. The design integrates porous ceramic tubes as wetting media and tubular heat pipes in a compact modular heat and mass transfer exchanger (HPHMX). Experimental and theoretical results demonstrate its potential as a highly energy-efficient alternative to traditional systems, achieving an overall coefficient of performance (COP) of 6-17 with reduced water consumption.

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  1. Solid Desiccant Air Dehumidification

Context: Air relative humidity significantly affects thermal comfort in buildings. Conventional vapor compression air conditioning systems dehumidify air by cooling it below its saturation temperature, a highly energy-intensive process. This project aims to develop a compact and innovative air dehumidification system using enhanced heat and mass transfer processes that minimise the heat of adsorption during the adsorption cycle. A validated mathematical model describes the complex heat and mass transfer processes involved.

  1. Low Temperature FPSE for Power Generation / Water Pumping in Remote Locations of Developing Countries

Context: Approximately 1.6 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, primarily in rural regions of developing countries. This project focuses on developing a low temperature Free Piston Stirling Engine (FPSE) that utilises solar energy to generate mechanical power for electricity generation or water pumping. The research involves designing, modelling, and testing prototype units under controlled solar radiation conditions.

  1. Solar Energy Driven Air Conditioning

Context: In hot climate regions, the widespread use of energy-intensive air conditioning systems for space cooling presents significant challenges related to energy consumption, power generation infrastructure, and occupant health and well-being. Coincidently, often these regions have abundance of solar resources and this research aims to develop low carbon cooling systems that employs solar energy to address the drawbacks of traditional vapour compression systems while enhancing thermal comfort and sustainability in buildings.

Future Research

  1. One of the most difficult challenges in the built environment is reducing energy consumption in buildings, particularly for space heating and cooling. As the returns from increasingly stringent building standards for thermal envelopes diminish for both new constructions and renovations, the prevalent use of high-temperature heating systems necessitates a comprehensive rethink, especially in densely populated urban areas.

Research Focus: A multi-vector energy system could integrate low-temperature heat sources (e.g., renewable sources and waste heat from industrial processes), energy storage in the form of heat and power (e.g., storing excess renewable energy), and integrated energy transport networks linking and creating energy-sustainable communities.

  1. In many countries with hot climates, the reliance on energy-intensive air conditioning for space cooling is increasingly recognised as unsustainable and a significant contributor to climate change. Therefore, research and development of sustainable building services are vital to the decarbonisation of the built environment.

Research Focus: Development of passive and low-carbon heating/cooling systems with novel materials, design configurations, components, computer modelling, and performance validation.

  1. The building envelope forms a physical barrier that separate and protects the internal environment from external influences. It contributes to maintaining a stable and functional internal environment conducive to the processes occurring within- for example, it helps regulate temperature, humidity, and air quality, creating a comfortable and healthy indoor environment for users of the built space.

Research Focus: Designing elements of modern buildings envelope to be adaptive and responsive to environmental conditions. Techniques such as dynamic glazing, smart ventilation systems, and passive solar design optimize energy efficiency and occupant comfort.

I also welcome inquiries from potential PhD candidates from home, EU, and international countries interested in the following research areas: energy-efficient and sustainable technologies, passive and active heating and cooling systems, adsorption and absorption systems, heat pumps, low-carbon technologies, heat recovery, and HVAC technologies.

Department of Architecture and Built Environment

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 95 14184