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Fully Funded PhD Studentship: Scalable method to assess ventilation rates in dwellings

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, May 08, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

The UCL Energy Institute and UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering in partnership with Aereco, are seeking applications for a fully funded studentship on the topic: Scalable method to assess ventilation rates in dwellings.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the EPSRC-SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE) and co-funded by Aereco, this project aims to investigate the relationship between hygrothermal properties and air exchange rates in dwellings, and the co-relationships with building geometry, archetype, age, ventilation provision, and retrofit measures.

Context

Knowledge of air exchange rates in existing buildings is increasingly important, especially in the context of retrofit. Retrofit interventions to improve the energy efficiency of a dwelling will most likely lead to a reduction in air exchange through infiltration, and it is important to ensure that this does not negatively impact the overall background ventilation rate in the building.

There are many established techniques for measuring and characterising air exchange rates in buildings. Despite this, there is currently very little data available regarding ventilation rates of existing dwellings in the UK. This is partly due to the complexity and cost of deploying established techniques, e.g. tracer gases, at scale.

However, through the increasing uptake of smart thermostats it is likely that temperature and humidity data will be available for large numbers of dwellings in the future. This project aims to explore how this data can be used to estimate ventilation rate. Provided both internal and external hygrothermal conditions are recorded, the resulting vapour pressure excess, i.e. moisture content rise above external levels, can be derived. Since vapour pressure excess is effectively a function of internal moisture generation and ventilation effectiveness, estimates of ventilation rate can theoretically be made using vapour pressure excess.

Project summary

This research will use vapour pressure excess to estimate air exchange rates across a range of typical moisture activities. Using moisture as a way of measuring and controlling ventilation rates can offer a simplified way of maintaining indoor air quality.

The field research element will require detailed investigations in a sample of occupied dwellings, including deployment of tracer gas techniques and the measurement of hygrothermal conditions. The results will help to identify if, by using readily available hygrothermal data (including re-analysis of existing data), it is possible to characterise air exchange rates and related ventilation effectivemess in dwellings on a UK- wide scale.
The research will address the following questions:
1. What evidence already exists in relation to air exchange rates and moisture conditions in existing dwellings?
2. How closely does moisture data relate to air exchange rates and related ventilation effectiveness?
3. Can we use moisture data, e.g. vapour pressure excess, to develop a metric for air exchange rates and/or to specify the required ventilation capacity?
4. Where lie the critical relationships between hygrothermal conditions, and air movement? How much does occupant moisture generation and geometry influence the indoor environment?
5. Can a moisture-only metric be sufficient for controlling other pollutants in the home? This will require detailed evaluation through field measurements or modelling to correlate moisture with, e.g. VOCs and other indoor pollutants.

Supervisors

Dr Hector Altamirano, UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering
Ian Mawditt, an independent researcher on behalf of industry sponsor Aereco UK Ltd.
The student will have the opportunity to work in the IEDE Environmental Laboratory and collaborate closely with Aereco UK Ltd: https://www.aereco.com/

Personal specficiation of applicant (specific skills required)

We are seeking highly motivated applicants with good degrees (min 2:1) in Science related qualifications, preferably engineering or physics. Previous experience in, or knowledge of, energy retrofitting interventions, monitoring and modelling is preferable but not required.

How to apply

Your pre-application should be submitted by email direct to the UCL ERBE Centre Manager ()
Application deadline: 7 May 2019 12:00 midday (UK time)
Interview date: tbc

The application should include the following:
• A covering letter clearly stating your motivation, and stating your understanding of eligibility according to these guidelines: https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/skills/students/help/eligibility/
• CV
• Names and addresses of two academic referees
• A copy of your degree certificate(s) and transcript(s) of degree(s),

Following the interview, the successful candidate will be invited to make a formal application to the UCL Research Degree programme. For any further details regarding the project contact Dr Hector Altamirano on .

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover UK fees and enhanced tax free stipend of approx. £18,000 per year (for eligible applicants for 4 years (start date September 2019), along with a substantial budget for research, travel, and centre activities.
Applicants should meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria: View Website

References

You will be undertaking this project in UCL students camupses which may be located at HereEast or Bloomsbury or across both sites as part of the new EPSRC-SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE CDT). This is a collaboration between UCL, Loughborough University and Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI).
For more information, please see http://erbecdt.ac.uk/

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