Thermofluids and Acoustics Research Group provide computer modelling for innovative prizewinning gadget

Esther Bruce and Carl Collins Computational Fluid Dynamics

Two PhD students from the School of Engineering provided computer modelling for a transformative gadget that cuts energy usage and could cut gas bills, which has now won an international innovation award.

Oxypod, which takes air out of heating systems boosting central heating boiler efficiency, was selected as one of three main prizewinners in this year’s Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) International Innovation and Research (I & R) Awards.

The inventor, heating engineer Stanley Whetstone with support from lecturer and builder Bob Harris, received a £2,000 award in the Innovation Achievers category. The patent for Oxypod is shared with fuel-poverty charity the Goodwin Development Trust.

Oxypod

Above: Oxypod – image copyright www.oxypod.me

State-of-the-art computer modelling

Dr Philip Rubini, Head of Chemical Engineering, explained that the School of Engineering received a request for assistance with Oxypod.

The School’s Thermofluids and Acoustics Research Group specialises in the application and development of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to practical engineering applications.* The research group employs state of the art commercial software, including STAR-CCM+ from Adapco.

Dr Rubini said: “In this project we were approached by the Goodwin Development Trust to undertake some CFD modelling for their client, Stanley Whetstone.”

“Our two PhD students, Carl Collins and Esther Bruce applied their extensive experience of working with STAR-CCM+ to set up the innovative geometry and carry out a range of fluid flow simulations. Their work demonstrated to the inventor the underlying flow phenomena upon which his device was based.”

The computer modelling of the ‘natural vortex implosion system’ inside the unit, was necessary to achieve international patents.

Taking the air out of water-based heating systems

The Oxypod is a simple, egg-shaped device which takes air out of both domestic and commercial water-based heating systems, reducing energy consumption by possibly 15-30%.

The inventors came up with the idea a number of years ago with the aim of saving on maintenance costs, but discovered along the way it also saves energy as the systems run more efficiently.

The Goodwin Development Trust has successfully installed and trialled the product in the Hull area and has now partnered with eco products company 21st Century Eco Energy to scale up production, marketing and distribution.

Following field trials of the device, Oxypod is now undergoing further laboratory testing prior to a widespread launch.

This year’s awards CIOB International Innovation & Research Awards, which celebrate achievement across the built environment, from academic research to industry innovation, attracted entries from 17 countries.

*The Thermofluids and Acoustics Research Group specialises in the application and development of CFD to practical engineering applications with industry funded projects from both large International companies such as Siemens Gas Turbines and Jaguar Landrover, to small projects with local SME’s such as Ideal Boilers, Enertek International and Coachman Caravans.

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