Intuitive Thermal Comfort Controller

Guaranteeing an optimal level of thermal comfort can increase productivity and quality of life. ‘THERCOM’ project will facilitate the development of a new paradigm in indoor climate control to ensure optimal thermal comfort. The control development will focus on three characteristics: improving user experience, increasing energy efficiency and consistency with the technological revolution.

‘THERCOM’ will offer an innovative user experience by implementing intuitive interaction between the occupant and the controller. The controller will apply thermal comfort theory and, based on the European and UK standards, bring an improvement to the user experience. ‘THERCOM’ will be the first controller to directly relate to the user experience and the environment, providing consumers with a unique control. The controller will optimize the expediency of most of the room users: no other controller in the marker is able to adjust the setpoints to optimize the general thermal comfort level of the room.

Increasing energy efficiency is one of the principal objectives of our society to decrease the negative impacts on the environment. ‘THERCOM’ will generate the opportunity to increase thermal comfort and optimise energy consumption. Internet of Things offers for the first time in human history the opportunity to provide ‘intelligence’ to objects. The new technologies try to improve the human quality of life, and thermal comfort is one area with immense potential to apply ‘smart’ controllers. Using the theoretical knowledge of thermal comfort, empirical data, international standards, and innovative hardware, ‘THERCOM’ project seeks to create a new paradigm in the indoor climate controller world, based on people, and adapting to personal prophecies, the human being has to be the focus of the advances that seek to reach net zero because it is the humans who consume the energy.

Motivated people are the most powerful force in the world. ‘THERCOM’ is able to motivate people to reduce their energy consumption through competition, rewards, feedback, and other gamification concepts, utilising all the power of motivated people. With this in mind, the possible positive impacts of this project are immense.

International Collaboration for Empowering Nigerian Engineers: A Collaborative Initiative by NTU, V-LAB, and Nigerian Partners for Better Electricity Access

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) had the pleasure of hosting a delegation from Nigeria as part of the Higher Education Partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa project, funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering. This week-long workshop, held from November 27th to 30th, 2023, brought together representatives from Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK), Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, and Fedironic Limited. The event aimed to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange between educational and industrial sectors in the UK and Africa.

The delegates engaged in a variety of activities, showcasing the depth of this partnership. Tours of NTU’s City, Clifton and Brackenurst campuses provided insights into the University’s cutting-edge facilities. Additionally, the delegates immersed themselves in Nottingham’s cultural heritage through the Robin Hood tour and extended their visit to the Rolls-Royce Heritage Centre in Derby, highlighting the region’s blend of history, culture, and industrial progress.

Central to the workshop were sessions led by Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh and his colleagues at NTU at School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, including the activities of the Product Innovation Centre. Also the  sessions and tours  included seminars across the university in order to share key insights  on sustainable practices such as renweable energy grid integration, vertical farming, precision agriculture, and business transformation. Vishak Dudhee, representing V-LAB, the leading UK industrial partner, delivered an insightful session on residential load simulation, focusing on sustainable energy consumption in residential areas.

This collaborative effort extended beyond the workshop. Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh of NTU, Vishak Dudhee of V-LAB, and the Nigerian partners visited the Royal Academy of Engineering at Prince Philip House in London. Discussions with Shane McHugh, the Interim Associate Director International, and Kirsty Chishti, Programme Officer, underscored the project’s impact and the ongoing commitment to advancing energy engineering education and entrepreneurship.

The project, with a budget of £100,000, is supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) Higher Education Partnerships in Sub-Saharan Africa Programme (HEP SSA), backed by the Anglo-American Group Foundation and the UK Government through the Global Challenges Research Fund. Spanning two years (2022-2024), it stands as a testament to the power of international cooperation in education. Its goal is to enhance employability and entrepreneurial skills among engineers in Nigeria’s electricity and renewable energy sectors.

Through this initiative, NTU, V-LAB, UNIZIK Business School, and an array of Nigerian universities and companies are collaborating to address the engineering skills gap in Sub-Saharan Africa. The programme is tailored to produce engineers capable of meeting industry demands and tackling local challenges, thus transforming the region’s infrastructure and improving electricity access.

Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh expressed his excitement about the project: “This international collaboration is a fantastic opportunity for NTU’s Product Innovation Centre to support the future of sustainability and innovation. We are proud to see our research and teaching making a significant international impact in Africa.”

Vishak Dudhee added, “The impact of an unreliable power grid is far-reaching. Our session on residential energy simulation aimed to sharpen students’ understanding and spur the creation of sustainable solutions. We are equipping future engineers with the skills to transform challenges into opportunities for sustainable energy advancements.”

About V-LAB

V-LAB is a UK-based, award-winning smart engineering technology and energy consultancy SME. We have access to demo sites across the UK and Europe and specialise in sustainable development and Net-Zero solutions. Our expertise encompasses Digital Twins Simulation, Building Information Modelling (BIM), Aerial Survey, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and Extended Reality (XR) applications in the Metaverse.

The team at V-LAB is comprised of highly skilled experts renowned for their technical prowess and significant contributions to scientific publications. We approach challenges with a can-do attitude and a proven track record of realising business opportunities worldwide. Collaborating with community energy groups and in rural areas, V-LAB tests and implements innovative technologies to promote sustainable practices.

About Nottingham Trent University

Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

It is one of the largest UK universities. With over 37,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University injects £1.6bn into the UK economy. It has been the largest recruiter of UK undergraduates in each of the last four years. With an international student population of more than 6,000 and an NTU community representing around 160 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

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Ayesha Ikram
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