UCL IEDE win over £400,000 from the UCL Research Capital Investment Fund
27 April 2022
Colleagues from the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering have been successful in their bids to the latest round of the UCL Research Capital Investment Fund (RCIF) winning £435,873 between them.
Researchers from three teams at the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering have successfully secured funding from the UCL Research Captial Investment Fund (RCIF).
- Towards comprehensive and holistic indoor air quality monitoring capabilities (£176,352)
- Advanced meteorological sensing network for improved building physics, urban climate characterisation and the creation of accurate weather files for building energy simulation (£126,080)
- Testing system for acoustic and thermo-hygrometric properties of materials for laboratory and in situ configurations (£133,441)
Testing system for acoustic and thermo-hygrometric properties of materials for laboratory and in situ configurations
In the context of built environment research, the advanced study of physical properties of green and innovative construction materials is becoming increasingly important for both sustainability- and climate-change-related aspects. Although the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering is a world leader in simulation/modelling of building and urban physics scenarios, there is still limited capacity for actualy materials testing, which means researchers must often rely on external sources of data. The equipment applied for in the Research Captial Investment Fund allows researchers to get data straight from innovative materials which could increase the usefulness and innovation of these research projects.
- Impedence Tube kit and software (Hottinger Bruel & Kjaer UK Ltd)
- Fullband artificial head with human-like ear canal (HEAD acoustics UK Ltd)
- Mercury Intrusion Porosimeter Belpore LP-MP (Verder Scientific UK Ltd)
The proposed measurement system will allow for testing of acoustic (i.e., impedance, and transmission loss – see example below) and porosity and water absorption properties (i.e., available water capacity, water retentivity) of bespoke samples of (construction) materials, as well as elements of their overall performance when installed on-site in their final building element set-up.
The equipment will be installed in Here East and the research group will produce in-house guides/manuals for the equipment to allow both broader use and ensuring knowledge is transferred and not lsot between staff and over time.
Towards comprehensive and holistic indoor air quality monitoring capabilities
Indoor air is composed of thousands of different pollutatns. Determining optimum building design & operational strategies therefore requires a comprehensive and balanced approach across pollutants. The application of this research team hopes to address existing gaps in their measurement capabilities. The researchers in this team are hoping to collaborating with BREI using the equipment applied for below to pilot methodologies and build research proposals on the links between indoor air quality and cognitive performance.
- Ultrafine particle sensors: Existing low-cost sensors cannot detect particles at the smallest sizes – significant for health and corresponding to virus particles. 4 new monitors to address this shortfall and allow research into new areas.
- Realtime formaldehyde sensors: A key pollutant for health, currently we rely on 3rd party labs for 5-day average measurements. 5 new sensors providing short-term measurements (2-hour), crucial for understanding dynamics and the role of building ventilation.
- Real-time Allergens, mold and Pollen: 5 units using continuous images from microscopes and AI to identify make-up of particles in air (inc Allergens, pollen, mold, dust etc). Further algorithms may be developed to this extremely novel approach, to help understand make-up of air pollution – key to determining health impacts.
- Upgrade of ‘low-cost’ field sensors: Upgrade of 22 low-cost sensors to bring in-line with NO2, PM and Ozone upgrade to other 16 in 2021 RCIF call.
- Fully discrete low-cost air quality monitor: 15 low-cost units designed to avoid current limitations of disruptive fan-noise and use as a stand-alone unit without central hub.
- Latest generation distributed CO2 monitors – Network of 40 new sensors and hubs. New sensors are cheaper, discrete, battery powered with longer-range communications.
- Ventilation tracer gas measurement kit to develop an in-house ventilation measurement technique, using GCMS from previous RCIF bid. Avoiding current use of 3rd parties and providing scalable solution to support large research bids. Microbalance and incubator to develop release of tracer gas.
Equipment will be used to develop methodologies and support future bids. Immediate uses will support existing projects and PhDs (e.g. Air Quality London Offices, VOCs & Cognitive Performance, Occupant Behaviour & Air Quality, Moisture & Ventilation).
Advanced meteorological sensing network for improved building physics, urban climate characterisation and the creation of accurate weather files for building energy simulation
The overall aim of this bid is to ensure UCL's capabilities to generation unique, high quality meteorological data relevant for building physics, urban climate and energy research. The equipment applied for capture data not available from traditional weather stations and/or at high spatial level resolutions, with further complementary measurements.
- Permanent sun tracker: A sun tracker to measure both direct and diffuse components of solar radiation. To be permanently homed at UCL to generate London based weather files. Smaller portable version included.
- Net radiometers: To determine net radiation exchange between terrestrial objects and the sky. 1 permanent, 1 for field studies.
- Heat flux sensors: Complimentary sensors to measure heat flows and temperatures of terrestrial objects due to radiation exchange and in façade systems. Small and flexible to be placed inside façade constructions.
- Transmitters, data loggers and wireless hubs: To integrate into existing data communication systems.
- Outdoor Illuminance Sensors & Dataloggers: Network of 15 outdoor illuminance sensors for daylighting weather files and studies. Multiple sensors for all directions and urban heights.
- Green roof/ facade monitoring system: Capturing PAR (photosynthetically active radiation), plant temperature, soil temperature & moisture content.
- Artificial radiant light source: An artificial light source to provide radiant heat for testing building components/sensors in Here East lab.
- Static urban temperature sensor network: A large scale distributed network of air temperature sensors to map urban temperatures in complex urban environments.
The aim is to support three key areas of research:
- to generate weather files suitable for use in building simulation tools key to the emerging area of calibrated energy models.
- support field work into measuring building performance. This includes work at BSA on passive radiant cooling (Dr Christopher Leung) and heat transfer through facades (Dr Kostas Grigoriadis – forthcoming EPSRC NIA bid) and work within BSEER on heat loss characterisation, lighting, overheating or energy use.
- air temperature monitoring network would support urban climate modelling research, including validation for new, in-house, regional climate model (Heaviside – forthcoming Wellcome Trust and NERC bids) along with better representation of personal heat exposure.