Aalto University's own research program presented results in Demo Day
Energy Efficiency Research Program AEF is Aalto University’s unique investment to support multidisciplinary collaboration in research and teaching.
AEF's nine research projects presented their recent results in a Demo Day in December. The projects are focusing on topics that will increase energy efficiency by means of science, new technologies, design, architecture and business that are all represented in the projects. The first three projects of the four-year program are finishing this year, while the rest are continuing for one more year.
Wood absorbs moisture while releasing heat. Researchers exposed pieces of wood to dry (20 % RH) and humid air (70 % RH) at room temperature. Simultaneous temperature monitoring revealed an increase of 0.2 degrees during the next 30 minutes.
– This means that, for example, a small meeting room covered in wood could be kept cooler than convenient while empty as the humidity brought in by humans raises the room temperature to a sufficient level. This helps to save in heating costs, says researcher Niko Meri (photo above) from the Department of Forest Products Technology.
– What's new in this study is the properties of wood that are known but have not been studied in depth in this context before. Our interest of research lies in several aspects and properties regarding wood, such as using wood in interiors, energy efficiency, air quality and sustainable development, says Professor of Wood Material Technology Mark Hughes (photo above).
Nanotechnology will help to storage heat more efficiently. Research targets are suitable for heat storage materials, thermal insulation as heat transfer fluids.
– Supercooled phase-changing materials (PCMs), such as salt hydrates and sugar alcohols, are promising materials for long-term and stable heat storages. The storage and release properties are related to melting and crystallization of the PCM material. E.g. crystallized xylitol releases its heat but the temperature raises close to the melting point of the compound, 95 C.
– In the materials we have developed in our research team, the heat release is much more controlled. In addition, the heat-storage properties are better compared to those of the co called bulk materials, says Doctoral Candidate Salla Puupponen (photo above) from the Department of Energy Technology.
Waste heat to electricity. The research project is looking for new solutions for the thermoelectric heat harvesting. Thermoelectric material is able to change heat into electricity by itself, as long as the temperature difference surrounding the material is high enough. Research Director Yrjö Neuvo (photo above) is observing a thermoelectric solar collector. The temperature difference created by concentrated solar radiation produces electricity and the same heat can be used to warm water.
– We are developing both new materials and looking for entirely new concepts for thermoelectricity. Recently, we have advanced significantly in producing fibers and fabrics with thermoelectric coatings, says Professor Maarit Karppinen from the Department of Chemistry.
The fabrics generating electricity from body temperature were presented by Doctoral Candidate Riikka Townsend and technical expert Jussi Mikkonen (photo above) from the Department of Design.
Energy-efficient and safe traffic environments. LED lights are digitally adjustable, making them more cost-effective than the traditional high-pressure sodium lamps. Savings are gained in energy consumption, emissions and costs.
– In street lighting, LED lights are better than sodium lamps. LEDs have good color repetition, and the human eye reacts better to the LED’s white light than to the yellowish sodium emission, says Senior Scientist Eino Tetri from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Automation.
Laser scanning acts as a tool in environmental modelling
– Laser scanning of the street provides a three-dimensional point cloud, which is then supplemented by lighting images. This shows how light is focused and which places are left in the dark. Safety is an aspect, which cannot be compromised when street lighting is being planned, says Postdoctoral Researcher Matti Vaaja (photo above).
Energy-efficient townhouse. Townhouse is a type of building not typical in Finland but familiar from Central Europe. It offers a possibility to combine a private house and urban infrastructure, and thus increase the energy efficiency. Researcher Matti Kuittinen (photo above) from the Department of Architecture is excited from the latest results of townhouse research. It shows that people interested in townhouses are more climate-positive than on average. Thus, they are also more open to new housing solutions, which townhouse represents. Also concluded was that even though townhouse would not be an interesting choice, more and more people are relatively positive towards climate aspects.