BATH Abbey, together with the engineers Buro
Happold, who are working on the abbey's development programme,
offered a challenge to Bath University. They invited the Physics
Department to help design a sustainable underfloor heating
programme that could be fuelled by the naturally heated water
running unused under the floor to the River Avon.
Four final-year students replicated a section of the abbey's
stone floor, and constructed an underfloor heating system in
laboratory conditions for a feasibility study of the efficiency of
the scheme. They tested the water temperature against seven
different floor-types of varying materials and thickness, and the
results were written up in a report which is now being used to help
in the final design of the system.
If it all works well, the new system will reduce heating costs
as well as carbon emissions for the abbey and in the surrounding
buildings, in a joint project with the Bath and North-East Somerset
The director of teaching in the Physics Department at the
university, Dr Frances Laughton, says that the project has been a
fantastic opportunity for the students "to develop a wide range of
transferable skills, including team working, communication,
problem-solving and project management". She also says that it has
been "a real pleasure to work with the team at Bath Abbey".