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Heating, Cooling and Refrigeration

This research activity that is led by Professor Savvas Tassou encompasses the following areas:

  • The design  of efficient display cabinets through the simulation of flows and heat and mass transfer between the controlled environment and surrounding spaces.
  • Modelling the performance of cold stores and studies into the design and application of air curtains for refrigeration and heating applications.
  • Heat and mass transfer in refrigeration heat exchangers.
  • The development and application of software tools based on Artificial Intelligence for the more efficient and accurate control of environmental and process conditions in the food retail industry. These include demand defrost control systems, energy consumption prediction and control and refrigeration system diagnostics.
  • Simulation and control of supermarket refrigeration and environmental control systems.
  • Research into ice slurry systems and phase change materials for energy storage and transportation.
  • Development of new and more efficient and sustainable refrigeration systems for the food industry.
  • Working fluids for refrigeration systems including natural refrigerants.
  • Design and development of tri-generation systems (simultaneous production of electrical power, heating and refrigeration) for food engineering applications.
  • Investigation and utilisation of the application of renewable energy technologies to the food industry and the built environment.

Facilities and design tools:

The Group has at its disposal  unique test and development facilities for heat and mass transfer and food refrigeration research. These include:

  1. An 80 m3 environmental test chamber for:
    • Display cabinet testing at  prEN441 conditions.
    • Testing of heating and cooling equipment at controlled environmental conditions.
    • Testing and evaluation of control systems for retail food applications

      main1    Cabinet under test in chamber

  2. Compressor and refrigeration component test facilities up to 25 kW nominal cooling capacity.
  3. Ice slurry and secondary refrigeration loop test facility.
  4. Multi-compressor test facility.
  5. Anechoic chamber and acoustic measurement and logging equipment.
  6. A range of measuring and logging equipment:
    • Power analysers with harmonic analysis capabilities
    • Gas concentration monitoring
    • Thermal comfort logger and analysis software.
  7. CFD software simulation and design packages: FLUENT and CFX.
  8. Thermal analysis and hourly simulation software: Apache, TRNSYS and TAS
  9. In-house developed software for refrigeration and heat pump design, analysis and dynamic modelling.  main2     Strategies to reduce `cold aisle’ effect

Capabilities,  Services and Collaboration

  1. Contract work: Research and development, testing, monitoring and analysis, system simulation
  2. Collaboration on longer term projects
    • Student project sponsorship – BEng, MEng, MSc
    • PhD student sponsorship ~ £12,000 per annum for three years
    • EngD student sponsorship ~ £8,000 per annum for four years. Research Engineer based in sponsor company.
  3. Teaching Company Scheme - two to three years. Research associate based in company. Cost ~ £20,000 per year.

In-kind support in collaborative research grant applications to: EPSRC, DEFRA, EU, DTI and other funding bodies.    

Major Current and Recently Completed Projects

Clicking on the links below will download word documents outlining the projects.

Studies into the Thermal and Transport Properties of Ice slurries for Low Energy Cooling Applications in Buildings. Funded by the EPSRC.

Modelling of the energy and environmental impact of supermarket environmental control systems. Funded by the EPSRC.

Fault Diagnosis and Refrigerant Leak Detection in Industrial and Commercial Refrigeration Systems.  Funded by the EPSRC.

Investigation and Application of Artificial Intelligence Techniques for Optimum Defrosting of Refrigerated Food Display Cabinets (AFM83). Funded by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) under the LINK Advanced and Hygienic Food Manufacturing Programme.


Design and Proof of Concept of a New Family of  Serve Over Display Cabinets. Funded by a private organisation.


Innovative upward air curtain delicatessen cabinet developed at Brunel for a major retailer6. Improving Refrigeration System Sustainability – IMPRESS. Funded by the EPSRC under the Sustainable Technologies Programme (STI-LINK).

Formal Model Based Methodologies for the Design of Stand Alone Chilled Food Display Cabinets (AFM144). Funded by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

Tri-generation in the Food Industry (AFM196). Funded by DEFRA under the LINK Advanced and Hygienic Food Manufacturing Programme. Potential for Solar Energy in Food Manufacturing, Distribution and Retail  (ACO405). Funded by DEFRA.

Fostering the Development of Technologies and Practices to Reduce the Energy Inputs into the Refrigeration of Food (AC0403). Collaborative project between Bristol, Brunel, London South Bank and Sunderland Universities , Funded by DEFRA.

Integration of tri-generation and CO2 based refrigeration systems for energy conservation in the food industry (AFM251). Funded by DEFRA.