Buildings, Energy and Environment Research Group

Image of Rabah Boukhanouf

Rabah Boukhanouf

Associate Professor, Faculty of Engineering



Dr Boukhanouf is an Associate Professor and has over 20 years experience in teaching and research in the broad field of energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies with a particular focus on applications in the built environment. Dr Boukhanouf holds PhD degree in energy systems from the University of Manchester, UK (1966). His teaching expertise includes developing, delivering and convening taught modules on Sustainable and Energy Efficient Building Technologies to Postgraduation and Undergraduation courses. Equally, Dr Boukhanouf 's research interests encompass the wider field of sustainable building technologies. He has worked on research projects funded by public and private bodies on design, computer simulation and laboratory prototyping of passive and active thermal energy systems ( 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 completed the supervision of over 20 PhD theses and has extensively published journal papers, conference papers, book chapters and is named the inventor on 6 UK and International Patents. Dr Boukhanouf is a Chartered Engineer, a member of CIBSE and an Associate Member or ASHRAE.

Buildings, Energy and Environment Research Group.

Expertise Summary

My professional expertise encompasses design, modeling and experimentation of energy efficient systems and allied enabling technologies. These include heating, ventilation, air conditioning, heat recovery (HVAC) technologies, heat transfer enabling technologies (heat pipes, heat and mass exchangers), small scale heat and power generation systems. I have also extensive experience in the use of various computer tools / software packages such as Matlab and Simulink, Flow3D, FluidFlow, Fluent and EnergyPro for technical and economic feasibility assessment of low carbon technologies.

Teaching Summary

With over 20 years of teaching experience at both the Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels, I have developed a keen interest in instilling knowledge on Energy Efficient and Sustainable Technologies,… read more

Research Summary

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

  1. Design, computer modeling, and testing of Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning (HVAC) Systems
  • Design, modeling and testing of adsorption heating/cooling
  • Evaporative cooling systems
  • Heat pump system
  • Heat Recovery systems
  • Solar hot water systems
  1. Design, Modeling, and testing of small scale power generation systems
  • Thermoelectric generators
  • Micro-CHP systems

3. Other heat and mass Transfer enabling technologies

  • Heat pipes
  • Porous media for evaporative cooling system

4. Solar energy assisted active cooling system

  • Solar thermal collector/refrigeration cycles

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 over 20 years of teaching experience at both the Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels, I have developed a keen interest in instilling knowledge on Energy Efficient and Sustainable Technologies, with a specific emphasis on their application in the Built Environment. As part of my responsibilities, I convene, deliver and assess the following modules::

  • ABEE 4095 (Building Services Technology) module: The Module is taught to students enrolled on Building Performance Engineering (PG, MSc) and 4th year Architecture Environment Engineering (UG) programs. The module covers Principles of heating systems: condensing boilers, combined heat and power and heat pumps; Cooling systems : Vapour compression and absoprtion chillers; ventilation heat recovery systems and the environmental impact of these technologies. IES-ve software is used throughout to simulate the technologies in a design case study. The module is assessed by a written piece of coursework. the coursework is made of group work and individual report.
  • ABEE 4104 (Principles of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficient Systems) Module: The module is open to all students registered on MSc programmes in the Faculty of Engineering. The module covers principle of renewable energy systems, heating and cooling systems with the focus on built environment. Students are assessed by a written examination and a Lab report.
  • ABEE2039 (Electricity for the Built environment) module: The module is for year 1/2 undergraduate students studying BEng/MEng Architectural Environment engineering and MEng Architecture Environmental Design. The module cover all theoretical aspects of electrical systems and wiring practices according to BS7671.
  • BEng/MEng/MSc Research projects: I supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students research projects. I have completed the supervision of over 100 UG and PG dissertation research projects in the field of energy systems and Low Carbon Building Technologies.

Past Research

Examples of Research projects:

1) Low temperature community heat networks (LTHN)


Decarbonising the heat sector is central to many countries' energy policy agenda in mitigating climate change and working towards a carbon neutral society. The aim of the work is to identify the optimum supply and return temperatures to operate DH networks and heating systems in buildings. An alternative methodology was developed to investigate and plan the implementation of low temperature district heating (LTDH) in existing buildings with traditional high temperature radiators.

2) Regenerative Evaporative Cooling


Energy consumption for thermal comfort in buildings in hot and dry climates make up to 50% (rising to 70% in typical mid-afternoon) of total demand for power. This market is traditionally served by vapour compression systems, which are energy intensive and the energy performance affected by elevated ambient temperatures. Inevitably, at peak load demand, electricity grids reliability is affected, putting strenuous financial strains to increase power generation spare capacity. In addition, conventional air conditioning systems contribute directly and indirectly to emission of global warming causing greenhouse gases and carry health risks such as allergies and asthma for building occupants

The aim of this study is to develop a new configuration of heat pipe based indirect evaporative cooling system. The basic mechanical design is centred on the regenerative configuration of IEC system which integrates porous ceramic tubes as wetting media materials and tubular heat pipes in a compact modular heat and mass transfer exchanger (HPHMX).

Both experimental and theoretical results show that the system can be an energy efficient alternative for traditional vapour compression systems. an overall coefficient of performance of (COP) of 6-17 was achieved while water consumption rate reduced.

3) Solid desiccant air dehumidification


Thermal comfort in buildings is greatly affected with air relative humidity. In conventional vapour compression air conditioning systems, air moisture content is reduced through the process of air dehumidification by cooling it below its saturation temperature before reheating it, an energy intensive strategy.

the aim of this work is to develop a novel and compact design of an air dehumidification system. the system uses enhanced heat and mass transfer processes by limiting the heat of adsorption during the adsorption cycle. A mathematical model for complex heat and mass transfer processes have been developed and validated experimentally.

4) Low Temperature FPSE for power generation / water pumping in remote locations of developing countries.



Approximately 1.6 billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity [World Bank]. Most of them live in rural regions in developing countries which lacked access to grid electricity.

Grid extension programmes, though expensive, and the use of solar home systems have helped to bring the number of people without access to electricity down significantly. this project uses a FPSE that converts solar energy into mechanical power to drive an electric generator for power generation or a water pump for irrigation. The research project involved design, modeling and testing a prototype units under controlled solar radiation conditions.

5) Solar energy driven air conditioning

It is not a coincidence that space cooling in buildings using high energy consumption air conditioning systems are particularly widespread in countries with equally high solar energy resources. developing novel processes to enable space cooling in buildings using solar energy will address many challenges related to thermal comfort, power generation infrastructure, health and wellbeing of building occupants, etc. the research is on-going and aims to develop a low carbon cooling system.

Future Research

Among the most difficult challenges in the built environment lies in the realm of curbing energy consumption in buildings, especially concerning space heating and cooling. As payback margins from ever tighter building standards for thermal building envelopes become increasingly low for both new constructions and renovations, the existing practices of high-temperature heating systems will require a comprehensive overhaul, particularly 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), thermal storage (e.g., damping excess renewable power) and battery storage in the form of heat and power networks linking and creating energy sustainable communities.

In many countries with high temperature climates, it is increasingly recognized that space cooling in buildings using energy intensive air conditioning practices are not sustainable and contribute hugely to climate change. therefore, research and development of sustainable building services are vital to the decarbonization of the built environment agenda.

  • Research focus: Passive and low carbon heating/cooling systems with novel materials, design configurations, components, computer modeling and performance validation.

I have keen interest in research and the development of associated energy management solutions and processes for buildings.

I welcome enquiries from potential PhD candidates from Home, EU and international countries who are 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.

Buildings, Energy and Environment Research Groups

Faculty of Engineering
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 74 86257