University challenge

14 March 2014

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 Council.

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".

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