15AGRITECHCAT3 WelChic - Welfare Enhanced Living Conditions for healthier Chickens

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering


The overall aim of the project is to develop and test an efficient and environmentally-friendly, precision engineering solution for cooling/heating to improve indoor air quality and thermal comfort to promote better animal welfare and productivity in poultry houses. The system will use a novel membrane -based dew point evaporative technology using water and air as the working fluids to provide thermal regulation and improved air quality in the summer period. In addition, a low-cost poly heat exchanger ready loop integrated solar roof collector will be used to harness solar energy to heat working fluid to drive a heat pump. This is an efficient method for providing heating requirements in poultry houses. The solar collector has a simple design with direct integration in the poultry house roof. The project will involve the design, construction and testing of a prototype cooling/heating system. The new system will provide an environmentally friendly and economic solution to compete with traditional HVAC systems. The support from the Innovate UK grant will ensure this technology is developed in the UK creating over 20 UK jobs and tax revenue giving a 20 to 30 times return on the Innovate UK investment, over the 2-5 years after the project completes.

Technical Summary

The proposed system is based on the integration of a new type of solar absorber, a Poly Heat Exchanger Ready Loop Module (PHERLM) installed between roof tiles and roof trusses. The new solar collector aims to overcome the drawbacks of conventional solar vacuum tubes and other solar water heaters. It is simple, inexpensive and easy to make. The collector is made of roof tiles (e.g. slate, steel tiles, clay or concrete) aluminium spreader sheets and a unique polyethylene heat ex-changer ready loop. Slates/clay or concrete/steel/alumiium roof tiles could be used to maximize the solar energy absorption. As slates/tiles have large thermal mass, they act a medium for solar energy storage, which is particular useful when solar radiation is low or intermittent, which is particularly useful when solar radiation is low or intermittent, typical of British weather. The circulating glycol from the solar collector is passed through the hot water cylinder to storage to be used as Domestic Hot Water (DHW) or heat power for the heat pump's evaporator. In winter, since the outside temperature would be low, and the PHERLM installed between roof tiles and roof trusses, the water temperature could be away from direct snow, therefore, the solar collector could act as a heat source for the heat pump and could enhance its performance significantly, because the temperature lift would be reduced. The initial computer modelling of the PHEM combined with the heat pump using novel refrigerant R1234yf /R1223zd as a function of the condenser (60 degree C) and evaporator temperatures (-5C - 15C). The Coefficient of Performance (COP) of the novel heat pump system varies from 4.21 to 5.7 even at lower outside temperatures, the refrigerant R1234yf reveals better coefficient of performance compare to a conventional heat pump system in the similar conditions.

Planned Impact

The project is timely as the proposed research will investigate an innovative solution to the present high fossil fuel consumption and related high carbon emissions of the UK and global livestock sector thus reducing energy consumption also increasing the productivity. The proposed project aims to design, develop and test an innovative system [Poly Heat Exchanger (PHE)/Heat pump (HP)/Psychometric Energy Core (PEC) system] for efficient and cost-effective environmental (cooling, heating, air flow and humidity) control to improve poultry house air quality (that includes reducing harmful ammonia gas). The significant market potential of the proposed system will provide the UK with economic benefits due to product sales and employment opportunities. The project will benefit the UK in terms of advancing technology, economic opportunities and positive environmental impact, adding value by providing a platform for collaboration between academic and industrial parties and allowing the UK companies to compete with overseas companies in the field of livestock better thermal control and air quality systems.

Exploitation of the proposed technology will create the new market for the project industrial partners and relevant manufacture and supply chain. Along with export of this technology, this will contribute to the UK economy recovery and growth. In general, the research will benefit to industries, nation, people, resource and environment, researchers, and their institutions.
Description Annual simulations verified by experimental evaluation of the prototype WelChic system show an annual operating cost saving of 89% (£2983) and an annual carbon saving of 52% (8.94 tonnes of CO2), compared to the original gas burner only system. Furthermore, the system generates annual revenues of £2537 through PV feed in/export tariffs and the renewable heat incentive. When these revenues are accounted for the WelChic system provides a 164% reduction in annual operational costs. The WeChic heating system has an installed cost of £48,680 (labour and parts). With the annual revenues included this equates to a payback period of 8.4 years and 15.6 years without the revenues.
The installed WelChic system has a respective 15kW and 60kW heating and cooling capacity. The system has been sized based on the particular application. However, the technologies and system methodology are scalable. The end product can be tailored to any particular application, irrespective of size.
The WelChic project outcomes demonstrate the immediate benefit of adopting the novel system. Furthermore, with the continued rising cost of gas and electricity and with the ratification of treaties such as the 2015 Paris climate agreement and the UK government's fifth carbon budget; low carbon, energy efficient HVAC solutions for livestock applications will become more significant and sought after.
As published in: Meeting Carbon Budgets - 2016 Progress Report to Parliament, June 2016, agriculture, land use, land-use change and forestry were 8% of 2014 emissions. The UK government aims to reduce emission in the agriculture sector by 15% between 2014 and 2030. They intend to do this through the following key approaches:
? The new Smart Inventory to be introduced in 2017
? A stronger policy framework for agriculture emissions reduction across all UK nations, both to 2022, as current progress is not on track, and after 2022; that should move beyond the current voluntary approach of providing information and advice.
The WelChic system provides a reliable and relevant solution to reduce operational cost and CO2 emissions within the UK livestock industry. It also provides a credible platform in which to begin the new Smart carbon emission Inventory the UK government will introduce in 2017.
The WelChic system is a low cost, highly efficient, scalable HVAC system that can bring about significant operational cost and emission savings in poultry houses or any livestock application.
Exploitation Route Firstly, the WelChic website can be a useful resource for people interested in the WelChic project / system to refer to. The website are used to update with on-going results from the field trials. Moreover, a workshop has be organised to demonstrate the technology to the focus group and other potential customers to facilitate technology transfer based on the prototype system successfully developed. Thirdly, if the technology is licensed to other manufacturers contacts will be made both by direct contact and through trade associations. Fourth, UoN will responsible for IP protection and dissemination. The project outcomes can be introduced to the relevant students and visitors through lectures, seminars, exhibitions, etc. Meanwhile, academic output have been published and presented at leading conferences and offered to journals disseminating research findings. Finally, all partners are able to promote commercial awareness of the new materials and generic marketing campaigns aligned to commercialisation plans.
Sectors Agriculture

Food and Drink




URL http://www.welchic.co.uk
Description GGP have received a large commercial contract relating to the WelChic work. JWL have been in contact with David Speller of Applied group (www.applied-group.co.uk) via the future farmer foundation. The purpose of this was to advise JWL on rebuilding and modernising their sheds. However, conversations also covered the work carried out on WelChic. Applied Group operates a 160,000 bird broiler farm alongside offering contract broiler farming services. Applied group are well placed to adopt, and disseminate the WelChic project outcomes to the UK broiler industry, leading to increased chances of successful commercialisation of the work. The WelChic system provides a reliable and relevant solution to reduce operational cost and CO2 emissions within the UK livestock industry. It also provides a credible platform in which to begin the novel smart carbon emission Inventory the UK government has been introduced in 2017.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy
Impact Types Economic

Description Patent application to protect exploitable project outcomes has begun. This is focussing on protecting the work related to the ground pipe array and the installation process. 
IP Reference GB1521627.8 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted
Licensed No
Impact other projects. Large commercial potential
Description Produced a WelChic website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A WelChic website (www.welchic.co.uk) has been created to disseminate / advertise the WelChic project. The website covers the following:

? Project / system description
? Project rationale
? Project partners
? Photo gallery
? Results
? Dissemination / contact details

The WelChic website will be a useful resource for people interested in the WelChic project / system to refer to. The website will be updated with on-going results from the field trials.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.welchic.co.uk
Description WelChic poster presentation at Seminar and Exhibition on Technologies on Energy Efficiency in Buildings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A poster summarising the WelChic project was presented at the Seminar and Exhibition on Technologies on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. This seminar was held on Thursday 26th October 2016 at the Nottingham Albert Hall
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description World Society of Sustainable Energy Technologies (WSSET) Newsletter article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Short article summarising WelChic project was published in WSSET newsletter 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.wsset.org/