Research carried out in the School of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with UK-based SME Sunamp Ltd, has resulted in the development of the world’s first commercially viable domestic heat battery, which provides an energy-efficient, sustainable, low-cost alternative to the traditional gas boiler and water tank.
Meeting of minds
The partnership of 12+ years between Sunamp Ltd and the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry began when Edinburgh Innovations facilitated a short collaborative project initiated and supported by Interface to develop phase-change materials (PCMs) for Sunamp’s heat batteries. Andrew Bissell, founder and CEO of Sunamp, and Professor Colin Pulham, Head of School, met as the project drew to a close and realised that they shared a goal for their technology: to address fuel poverty and to have a direct impact on tackling climate change.
A breakthrough for people and the planet
Collaborative research with Sunamp led by Professor Pulham and PhD student David Oliver succeeded in solving long-standing stability issues associated with PCMs based on salt hydrates. This key breakthrough made possible the development of patented formulations that efficiently store and reproducibly release heat on demand, and enabled Sunamp to bring to market the world’s first commercially viable residential heat batteries.
Sunamp’s heat batteries can be charged with energy from almost any source, provide high-efficiency storage, and release heat on demand. They have saved homeowners money and reduced carbon emissions by minimising heat loss from storage and by increasing use of locally generated renewable energy and cheap off-peak electricity. Recognising the potential of heat batteries to reduce costs for homeowners most in need, Sunamp has worked with UK housing associations to install heat batteries in 1,500 properties. This step has resulted in greater comfort and a 35% reduction in energy usage for residents at risk of fuel poverty.
From strength to strength
Throughout its journey, EI have supported Sunamp with investment from Old College Capital; the in-house venture fund of the University of Edinburgh.
Having successfully cut emissions from Scottish homes, created local jobs and tackled fuel poverty, Sunamp is now making its impact felt globally. In 2021 the company launched in the US and licensed a factory in South Korea to meet initial demand from the Asian markets, and the company has a current order book worth £100 million. Today, Sunamp is recognised as a world leader in thermal storage technologies, and its collaborative research with Professor Pulham and his team has helped secure £7.7 million to facilitate extending its technology into new automotive and commercial applications.
Out of an academic collaboration has grown a very powerful partnership which continues to this day. We have patented and commercilaised game changing technology that has a direct impact on climate change, providing net-zero solutions for hot water, heading and cooling into the global market."“