A Cool Project: Sheffield academic receives funding to create first zero energy cooled school in the Middle East

  • Engineering academic has invented a cooling system for buildings that requires no energy
  • System will be installed in an Abu Dhabi school to become the first zero energy cooled school in the Middle East
  • Technology can reduce temperature up to 15°C

An academic from the University of Sheffield has been awarded £400k from Innovate UK and the Zayed Energy Prize to expand his research into naturally cooling buildings, which could substantially save the cost and energy used in air conditioning.

Dr Ben Hughes, a Reader in the Energy 2050 institute, has designed a novel cooling system inspired by traditional architecture design to bring cold air in and hot air out.

The system uses integrated water filled pipes to reduce incoming air up to 15°C without any mechanical intervention, providing free cooling.

His team has already tested the technology in one of the emirate states, Ras Al Khaimah. Results showed a temperature reduction of 10°C in the hottest month of the year.

The grant will fund a full scale demonstration site of the technology at a school in UAE (Abu Dhabi). This will become the first zero energy cooled school in the Middle East.

Dr Ben Hughes said: “Air conditioning systems are the biggest energy consumer in the Middle East. By creating a cooling system that uses no energy, this could have a massive effect on energy and costs for the region and the wider world.”