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19 March 2009 - PR 09/35

University system makes top five of international climate change competition

A ground-breaking cooling system, developed at the Department of Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough University, has made it to the last five in a global competition for innovation to tackle climate change, featured in the Financial Times today (Thursday, March 19).

The evaporating tiles system – called Zephyr – was one of nearly 300 entries from around the world to the FT Climate Change Challenge. The winner, who will be decided by a public vote online, will be awarded $75,000 to help develop their idea and bring it to market.

The Zephyr system is an innovative, low-energy air-conditioning system that has great potential for providing significantly cheaper air conditioning and reducing CO2 emissions. The system is the brainchild of Dr Harry Salt, Principal Research Associate on the project, along with Professor Dennis Loveday, Director of the Sustainability Research School at the University and a leading academic in building energy performance.

The principle behind the system is simple. Dr Harry Salt explains: ‘”If you dip your hand in water and then blow on it, you feel it cool instantly. The evaporating ceiling tiles used by the Zephyr system do something very similar.”

Instead of blowing cold air into a room like a conventional air conditioning system, the Zephyr system uses special ceiling tiles to draw up warm air from the room which is then evaporated when it passes over a moist wick surface enclosed within the tile. This instantly cools the surface of the tile, in turn lowering the temperature in the room.

Laboratory tests have shown that the tiles reduce energy use by up to 50% when used in conjunction with a conventional air conditioning system and could save as much as 95% when used as a stand-alone system. As air conditioning already constitutes 3% of electricity consumption in the UK and is predicted to rise with global warming, the Zephyr system could have a significant impact on reducing energy consumption.

Professor Loveday, who is the E.ON UK/Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Low Carbon Energy Technology at the University said: “This is a significant innovation with immense potential for reducing energy consumption. Whilst passive design is vital for reducing cooling demands, we will always have situations where air conditioning is essential; this system will enable us to continue to meet that demand in a highly energy efficient way.”

People can vote for Evaporating Tiles by visiting the FT Climate Change Challenge website at: www.ft.com/climatechallenge


For all media enquiries contact:

Jo Lumani
Senior Public Relations Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: J.P.Lumani@lboro.ac.uk

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top fifteen of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006 and 2007 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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