DMU joins £1.5m project to tackle climate change

Researchers at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) are part of a £1.5m project which aims to reduce the use of fossil fuels linked to climate change.

The project, called SaFEGround, is one of 11 newly funded projects unveiled by the Government as potential solutions to decarbonise the heating and cooling of buildings.


Heating is one of the largest contributors to the UK’s carbon emissions, with nearly 13 per cent of greenhouse gases a result of home heating using fossil fuels, a similar level to emissions from cars. With the UK predicted to experience hotter summers in the future, the carbon cost of cooling buildings will also continue to grow unless renewable methods of generating this energy are found.  

SaFEGround was one of 11 projects announced last week by UK Research and Innovation. The Government hopes the research will speed up the development of low-carbon technology to cut emissions while ensuring people’s homes are warmer, greener and cheaper to run.
SaFEGround - which stands for Sustainable, Flexible and Efficient Ground-source heating and cooling system - aims to reduce the emissions associated with heating and cooling by using heat pumps.

DMU has been monitoring ground source heat pump technology for many years

Heat pumps are devices that can extract heat from sources like soil or the air with high efficiency, usually providing 3 or 4 units of heat for every unit of electricity used. They are more environmentally-friendly than gas-fired boilers as they require only electricity to run.  

The project is led by Imperial College London, with partners University of Cambridge, University of Leeds and DMU. Principal investigator and lead researcher Dr David Taborda said: “Heat pumps drawing energy from the ground can play an important role in the UK’s future low-carbon energy mix, and we will investigate how they can be coupled with our buildings and urban infrastructure to deliver low-carbon heating and cooling.” 

DMU’s IESD (Institute for Energy and Sustainable Development) research team have been monitoring and evaluating a shallow ground-source heat pump coupled to solar panels near the Queen’s Building for years, and providing advice on new housing using a similar system. They will now bring that expertise to the SaFEGround project.

Dr Andrew Wright, Reader in Building Engineering Physics in the IESD said: “We are really looking forward to working on this project. Phasing out gas boilers will be a major challenge, and ground storage will play an important role."

Lord Callanan, Minister for Climate Change, said: “This funding package will accelerate the development of low-carbon technologies that will both reduce emissions, and ensure people’s homes are warmer, greener and cheaper to run.

“Securing a lasting move away from fossil fuels to heat our homes will allow thousands of households and businesses to feel the benefits of projects that are breaking new ground and making our villages, towns and cities cleaner places to live and work.”

Posted on Wednesday 2nd June 2021

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