The Ashden Awards recognise those who "deliver, or help to deliver, significant social and economic benefits to individuals, communities or businesses". For UK awards this includes "urban or rural regeneration, improving working and living conditions, reducing fuel poverty, creating jobs and improving business practice, or improving energy security".
ICAX has been longlisted for an Ashden Award in 2019 – along with 20 other organisations.
Through its collaboration across seven partners and the integration of heat pumps, heat networks, thermal energy storage and demand side management, the BEN project, led by ICAX, has a solution to two of the most pressing problems now facing engineers:
- how to reduce carbon emissions (to nil) for heating
- how to reduce NO2 emissions (to nil) from heating in city centres.
The BEN project has successfully demonstrated the path that can now be taken to aclean energy future and provides sustainable energy which delivers social, economic, environmental and health benefits.
ICAX has developed and installed a new kind of district heating network – a Balanced Energy Network.
Balanced Energy Network
A BEN is particularly carbon-efficient, and uses ambient temperature groundwater in the circuit, so is simple and inexpensive to install. A heat pump is installed in each building to transfer heat from the ambient temperature circuit if the building needs heating – or reject heat to the circuit when the building needs cooling.
As part of the development programme for a BEN, ICAX developed a new kind of heat pump, which is able to match the temperatures of existing heat generating systems, such as gas boilers. Consequently, BEN systems can address the enormous challenges of retro-fitting heating systems and electrifying heat at the same time.
The first BEN system is installed and running beautifully at London South Bank University. The CO2 emitted by the Grid is 77% less than the CO2 previously emitted by gas boilers on-site for the same amount of heat.
A BEN system is easily expandable in a modular fashion, which means that larger district heating systems can be built in bite-sized chunks, reflecting the real world pattern of development which happens in the UK, and making district heating easier to adopt and opt into.
A BEN system is fully accessible to demand-side management, with heat pumps and thermal storage available to aggregators for assisting the UK electrical grid to stay in balance.
The BEN system also has major air quality benefits, since there are no NOx, SOx or particulate emissions on-site.
Fifth Generation District Heat Network
As each new generation of district heating has evolved, the temperature in the distribution pipework has fallen in order to save heat losses to the ground and the cost of installing insulation. The logical conclusion is reached in a fifth generation network with a reduction to ambient ground temperature in the distribution circuit; heat pumps in each building transfer heat from the network when heating is needed, or reject heat to the network when cooling is needed.