Our work

Access to cooling is essential for meeting our social and economic goals but equally unmanaged growth in cooling represents one of the largest end user threats to achieving our climate goals for CO2 emissions. To address this, we urgently need access to clean cooling for all.
Air conditioning units on the outside of housing

Read our A Cool World: Defining the Energy Conundrum of Cooling for All report (PDF)

Our work to date work, including research with stakeholders across the sector, has led to a clear set of recommendations.Given the urgency and magnitude of the challenge and the multi-partner and multi-disciplinary research and delivery mechanisms required, to lead this work we urge the establishment of a multi-disciplinary Centre of Excellence for Clean Cooling (CEfCC) to bring the global expertise together to research and develop the step-change pathways (culture and social, technology, policy, business models, financing) for achieving (i) cheapest cost (whole of life), (ii) greatest energy system resilience and (iii) lowest carbon emissions while (iv) meeting social and economic cooling needs. To this end we are already working with a series of partners from academia, research institutes, Governments, industry and NGOs.

What is "Clean Cooling"?

Meeting our cooling needs sustainably within our climate change, natural resource and clean air targets. Clean cooling necessarily must be affordable and accessible to all to deliver the societal, economic and health goals. It likely starts with mitigating demand.

 What needs happen to deliver Cooling for All sustainably?

 Roadmap Delivery Accelerate
All-stakeholder engagement
Engage and drive collaboration across the main stakeholder groups (policy, customers, industry, developers and financiers)
Fund Innovation development
Connect research institutes OEMs, VCs, policy makers and customers to collaborate on the delivery of high impact innovation.
Policies to unlock finance
Create the market environment (policies and business models) to attract infrastructure investment to deliver "Cooling for All"
Systems Level Analysis
Assess Cooling for All at the systems level - size of the challenge and alternative technologies, energy sources, business models and cross-industry resource efficiency sharing mechanisms.
Prove
Eliminate the performance risk and demonstrate impact through live market testing and validation in Living Labs
Skills 
Identify the skills gap (design through to installation and maintenance) and  connect educational institutes OEMs,  policy makers and customers to collaborate on the delivery of accelerated solutions

Roadmap
Create the Intervention roadmap (technology, policy, finance, etc) to deliver 70% reduction in electricity usage for cooling.

Scale-up
Design manufacturing processes and engage industry to scale novel technologies; ideally using a global science, local delivery model 
Effective Knowledge Transfer
Use system level model, in-country living labs and manufacturing accelerator to roll out "fit for market" solutions across new geographies

Unintended Consequences

Identify, plan for and mitigate potential unintended consequences

  

Research programmes

Energy storage

Professor Yulong Ding is a world expert in thermal energy systems and leads the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage. He worked with Professor Toby Peters to develop the technology behind the Highview Liquid Air Energy Storage and is leading international projects such as the development of novel air conditioning systems for high speed rail.

Dr Jonathan Radcliffe is an expert on the modelling of the integration of energy systems and with Professor Peters is involved the in £7M EU Cryohub project. Dr Radcliffe has also developed Birmingham's Masters programme in Energy Systems.

Dr Raya Al-Dadah and Dr Saad Mahmoud are experts in thermal engineering and are working on the development of novel adsorption cooling systems.

Cold and Power power

Professor Thanos Tsolakis and Dr Karl Dearn are leading on Cold and Power and are working with Dearman on the development of its cryogenic engine for advanced, zero-emission cooling in developing markets.

Sustainable energy use

Professor Peter Fryer is an expert in food technology and is a co-director of the UK Centre for Sustainable Energy Use in Food Chains.

Dr Rosie Day is an expert in energy social science and Co-Investigator of The DEMAND Centre and together with Professor Peters plans to look at the unintended consequences and the impacts of introducing a major shift to dynamic socio-technical systems. The University of Birmingham also leads the UK’s Energy Research Accelerator which includes developing the novel Industry 4.0 manufacturing processes (including Factory in a Box) to move new cooling technologies through to market. 

 

Unintended consequences of cooling

Introducing more affordable and readily available means of cooling in food supply chains and the built environment is not just a matter of adding cooling to the status quo; it will introduce major shifts to dynamic socio-technical systems as well as the wider environment and eco-systems. These could result in a number of unintended and sometimes negative, as well as positive, effects. It is important to try to identify and plan for these in advance.

For example:

  • A cold chain could allow farmers to transition from staple to high value (but temperature sensitive) horticulture. A move to potentially more water demanding produce could have implication for water resources.
  • The provision of food supply chain cooling will allow farmers to reach more distant markets. More processing at the farm could lead to increased packaging demands, in itself a a major source of environmental pollution
  • Refrigeration in the home can change cooking styles and patterns – especially the case if coupled with more processed food and the convenience products that cold chains enable. This can affect can indigenous diets and health. Domestic refrigeration can also reduce the frequency of shopping which can affect local marketplaces.

These are but a small number of examples, yet they illustrate clearly the important of research work to identify potential unintended negative social, ecological or economic consequences and engage to mitigate them as soon as possible.