Activities in Energy Efficiency in Buildings

Building physics

We are contributing to the development of knowledge about sustainable, durable and energy-efficient buildings with a healthy and comfortable indoor climate. Heat and moisture transfer in buildings and building components is tested, studied and modelled.

ECO life project

In the ECO life project (2010-2016), we are responsible for measuring the performance of innovative integrated energy concepts in towns. One of the sites we are following up is in Kortrijk with 1,200 ECO life inhabitants in the community.

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We take up the same role in the Flemish real life lab on buildings. Through advanced modelling and monitoring, we evaluate the influence of various measures on the energy performance of buildings, such as thermal insulation systems, energy efficient ventilation,… in relation to the influence of user behavior. We are a member of the Flemish EPB task.

Smart light domes – natural light for free

We have developed a control algorithm for the LightCatcher of the Ghent-based company EcoNation. The LightCatcher is a light dome that tracks the brightest spot in the sky and reflects the light from this spot into the room. In the morning, in the evening and on cloudy days this makes the difference between needing or not needing to put on the artificial lights, saving on the energy bill in the process.

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We have assisted the company Wienerberger in developing an atlas of ‘bouwknopen’, i.e. important (interconnection) elements in a building. This atlas provides an overview of more than 100 such elements typically used in buildings. It indicates which elements are accepted by the local ‘Energy Performance of Buildings’ (EPB) regulations and which are not. For elements not (yet) accepted by EPB, we have calculated the relevant parameters with numerical software, and this in varying conditions such as type of brickwork, type of insulation, insulation thickness, … .

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e-cube - Solar Decathlon

With students and industrial partners we also entered the Solar Decathlon competition in 2011 with the E-Cube, an affordable, do-it-yourself building kit for a solar-powered house which is pre-engineered, factory-built, and easily assembled without special skills. Today the e-cube is erected at the UGent science park GreenBridge in Ostend.

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Compact heat exchangers for HVAC applications

Thermal energy will be provided to buildings with heat pumps. Both CFD as well as advanced modelling techniques are used to design compact (supercritical) heat exchangers. Special attention is paid to the two-phase flow operation. We have developed a patented technology to determine in-situ and on-line the behaviour of this two-phase flow.

Low and Medium Voltage Grids

The massive increase of the intermittent DRES in LV and MV networks has led to a bidirectional power flow which raises the urgent need for new operational and control strategies. We coordinate the FP7 project INCREASE (2013-2017). INCREASE wants to focus on how to manage renewable energy sources in low and medium-voltage networks, provide ancillary services at the level of the distribution and transmission grid, in particular voltage control and unbalance mitigation. The massive increase of the intermittent renewables in low and medium-voltage networks has led to a bidirectional power flow. There is an urgent need for such new operational and control strategies in order to maintain the ability of the system to provide consumers with a reliable supply of electricity at an acceptable power quality level and network cost.

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Our research is supported by our research infrastructure consisting of a real-life grid that can be transformed into several grid topologies with 18 connection points onto which a single residence can be emulated. We also have a small micro grid to evaluate new control strategies.

Smart windows and solar concentratorsSmart windows

We develop technology for smart windows which allow to switch windows from transparent to absorbing or scattering, thereby reducing the demand for cooling in the summer.

Expertise in optical simulations and design is available that is used to create optical solar concentrators that are used to bring sunlight into the building. This can drastically cut the electricity costs for lighting.