Faculty of Engineering

Dr Edward Cooper wins best paper award for the innovative PULSE technique for measuring airtightness

Ed Cooper receives the best paper award for the PULSE technique.

In September, The University of Nottingham received the ‘Best Paper Award’ at the International Energy Agency’s 36th AIVC (Airtightness, Infiltration and Ventilation Centre) Conference in Madrid. The paper reports on field trialling of a novel ‘PULSE’ technique for measuring airtightness of buildings. The photo shows the lead author, Dr Ed Cooper, who has worked on the development of the PULSE technique over the past 13 years through EPSRC, InnovateUK and EU funding, receiving the award from Max Sherman of the AIVC.

A recent £600k InnovateUK project with industry partners has led to the forming of a consortium with Elmhurst Energy, the National Energy Foundation and Absolute Air and Gas to commercialise the unit. PULSE is also being used in the €6 million EU H2020 project Built2Spec, which will use the invention, amongst other new technologies, to make it vastly easier, quicker and cheaper to ensure Europe’s buildings are performing well and deliver necessary carbon savings by 2050. The four-year project is being delivered by a consortium of 20 organisations across Europe, including industry leaders such as the Passivhaus Institute (Germany), BSRIA (UK), Obrascón Huarte Lain (Spain), TNO (Netherlands), Lakehouse (UK) and NOBATEK (France). The Nottingham team members on this project are Dr Edward Cooper (PI), Dr Christopher Wood (CI) and Dr Xiaofeng Zheng (Research Fellow) of the Department of Architecture and Built Environment’s Architecture Energy and Environment Research Group.

The gap between design and performance of airtightness in buildings can at best cause discomfort for occupants and at worst can create significant energy wastage and health problems. However, buildings are typically only tested for airtightness at the completion stage, which is often too late for any significant intervention. Testing traditionally involves pressurising the building envelope by means of a large fan within an external doorway, which is neither simple nor quick to implement and requires trained technicians. The PULSE technique is believed to offer the first commercially viable alternative to the standard technique. PULSE consists of a very portable, self-contained unit that can quickly and accurately measure the building airtightness at the low pressures normally found in infiltration/exfiltration. Furthermore, very large buildings can be tested simply by tethering together multiple units spread within the building volume, so as to ensure even pressure distribution. 

Posted on Wednesday 2nd December 2015

Faculty of Engineering

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