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


The proposed project aims to design, develop and test an innovative integrated system [Flexible Fibre Mop (FFM)/UV photocatalytic oxidation (UVPCO)/bag filter (BF)/LED lighting] for efficient and cost-effective indoor air quality (IAQ) and lighting control to improve poultry house air quality and animal welfare. The system will integrate various technologies, including a novel UV activated, TiO2 coated flexible fibre mop, microporous bag filter, cross-flow heat exchanger and customised LED light array. The novel AnimalWelfAir system will provide good IAQ and optimised lighting throughout the year leading to better poultry health, welfare and subsequently enhanced productivity. This project will provide a sustainable, innovative solution to the present high fossil fuel consumption and related high carbon emissions while increasing the productivity of the UK and global livestock sector thus reducing the industry's adverse impacts on the environment.

Technical Summary

A multi-factorial approach will be taken in the assessment of the impact of the AnimalWelfAir system in comparison with existing systems with reference to Poultry Welfare. Deep litter poultry production brings a host of welfare-related problems such as pododermatitis, pectoral muscle ulceration from extended contact with wet corrosive litter and respiratory distress from inadequate ventilation designed to maintain room temperature at the expense of indoor air quality (IAQ), predisposing birds to a range of respiratory and systemic infections. We expect our improved IAQ and lighting control approach to significantly improve overall welfare improvement for the birds with raised profitability for producers and will validate this through biological performance measurements in commercial production conditions. The Environmental Agency state that the use of scrubbers and mesh filters in current livestock buildings to maintain adequate IAQ standards face many limitations including: lifetime, high maintenance requirement and degradation of performance over time (Environmental Agency Sector guidance EA, 2011). The proposed Animal WelfAir system overcomes these issues along with improving upon current performance. Extensive online patent searches (Google patent search, IPC, EPO patent search, and UK / US government patent offices) has shown that work has been carried out on the individual components of the Animal WelfAir system (including the patent held by UON). No work has been found relating to the entire Animal WelfAir system.

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 integrated system [Flexible Fibre Mop (FFM)/UV photocatalytic oxidation (UVPCO)/bag filter (BF)/LED lighting] for efficient and cost-effective indoor air quality (IAQ) and lighting control to improve poultry house air quality and animal welfare & production.
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 comfort control and air quality systems.
Exploitation of the proposed technology will create new markets for the projects industrial partners with relevant manufacturing and supply chains. Along with export of this technology, this will contribute to the UK economy's recovery and growth. In general, the research will be beneficial to industries, the nation, its people, resource and environment, researchers, and their institutions.
Description The project attempted several things in relation to the improvement of flock welfare in UK housed chicken farms, these pertaining to the control of ammonia, airborne dust, carbon dioxide, and temperature.

For ammonia the consortium assessed the use of a UV photo-catalytic process to control ammonia emissions from farms, this to be directed from within the facility via piping to a HVAC unit containing the device, instead of air being directly purged into the surrounding environment. This was tested in a laboratory setting in the project prior being installed in a case study building of a project partner. The lab results showed no processing of ammonia could be achieved under controlled conditions that matched those observed in the case study building. A consistent 30-100% reduction of ammonia was achieved however due to a different phenomenon (adsorption) inside the device. The experiments showed this could be capture and released in a controlled approach through UV light application. This effect was found to be adaptable to consistently remove ammonia from a gas flow. Stakeholders are looking to utilize this effect in combination with a water-spray scrubbing device that has been validated to remove ammonia via liquid capture from the case study building.

In order to efficiently operate the ammonia capture device a monitoring-control system was developed using a RasberryPi based opensource building management system. This was adapted to monitor-record pollutant levels (including multiple gases and particle sizes), and enable the controlled-activation of the device when internal concentrations reach specific set points. This is a one of a kind system the consortium is intending to exploit further through interaction of other technologies to enable the smart management of the poultry farm building, to optimize energy use, improve flock welfare, and improve business profitability.

A review of the UK poultry farm industry has discovered that the majority of UK producers use the same HVAC methodology the WelfAir project farm stakeholder uses in their practices. This involves the regular ventilation of air flow through a facility to purge pollutants coupled with intense heating using natural gas direct heating. A review of recent policy has found that official strategy has now recognized the impacts of ammonia in the natural environment. The consortium believes official upcoming policy and legislation will target the farm practices mentioned in an attempt to enforce change in the industry. This is likely to occur due to compliance with international commitments and public democratic demand. With the industry being important in regards to supply of domestic-sourced product the consortium believes transition support packages will be made available to industry. The system developed in project will be in a strong position to exploit these changes through being a technology to enable farm customers to make the change.
Exploitation Route Outputs from the project are to be used to: publish scientific articles, be used for the development of a follow up project, and be used in other projects for monitoring and control of internal pollutants using HVAC systems.

A large amount of scientific investigations involving modelling and empirical study was done in completion of the project. Stakeholders have identified 3-4 academic articles that will be published using material from the project. These are to incorporate review of previous works, provide overview and report on the laboratory testing completed, provide report on the development and implementation of the opensource monitoring / control system developed, and report on the implementation of the up-scaled device in the main test poultry facility, These are to be published in high impact journals focusing on the implementation of HVAC systems for agriculture.

The follow up project is to be devised on the implementation of the WelfAir prototype in conjunction with the monitoring-control system in a holistic building upgrade to optimize energy use, and bird feed to weight conversion ratio, through digital control over internal building pollutant levels. The project stakeholders have devise a method for upgrading the building to incorporate up to date technologies, as it has been identified the industry has not changed its practices on average for the past 3-4 decades. This has been on account of ineffective policy-legislation and cheap energy. Government focus has changed and has targeted the housed farming sector, most notably on the control of ammonia emissions. Farming practices are likely to be forced to change in the next decade as a result of this, and the follow up project is to be focused on developing a system using the WelfAir technology to devise a commercial system to enable farmers to achieve this.

The final way outputs of the project are to be exploited is based on other sectors needing low cost workable solutions to enable them to monitor and control internal pollutants present in buildings. Recent studies have identified these as causing negative effective to peoples well being and productivity. The University of Nottingham is linked with many other public and private sector organisations involved in projects where internal pollutants are being monitored to assess the impacts mentioned. One example is Nottingham City Homes (NCH), this stakeholder manages over 30,000 domestic homes and buildings across the city. There is a gap in monitoring-control systems used for research projects targeted at specific internal pollutants, and the control of HVAC systems to mitigate health impacts caused by these. The WelfAir monitoring-control system is being shown to these stakeholders for use in follow up projects. It is likely the technology will in the future be designed then licenced for specific application by the large stakeholders mentioned. One current project involves the testing of the device for a 2 year, 150+ domestic building retrofit upgrade project by NCH.
Sectors Agriculture

Food and Drink






Description The AnimalWelfAir project at the University of Nottingham has made a marked academic impact by advancing knowledge in sustainable HVAC technologies. It has generated interdisciplinary research, informed educational content, and led to new inquiries in environmental technology and to better poultry health, welfare and subsequently enhanced productivity. The project's outcomes have not only contributed to scholarly publications but have also enriched the academic dialogue.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Energy,Environment
Impact Types Economic

Description Presented research and paper in an international conference- 19th International Conference on Sustainable Energy Technologies(SET22) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact New Mop Fibre Air Cleaning and Filtration Unit with UV Lights for Poultry Farming
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022