Research team

Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology (DuEL)

Expertise

- Benchmarking and testing of innovative sensor technology (eg eNoses). - Research with regards to residential wood combustion

Combined ESP/photocatalysis for air purification in underground parking garages: a study based on experimental analysis and CFD modelling. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2021

Abstract

Despite the fact that Europe and Flanders have succeeded in reducing the emission of pollutants into the air, WHO air quality guidelines are not yet within reach. Underground parking garages in particular can promote elevated concentrations of traffic-related pollutants such as PM and NOx, as they accumulate in the building. Especially, ventilated parking garages are hot spots as the pollutants are transferred to the outside environment with a large impact on local ambient air quality. To address this problem, polluted air should be treated before leaving the building. In this project an innovative air purification technology is being considered that combines ESP with photocatalysis to tackle PM and NOx simultaneously. An experimental study will assess the performance of this combined technology under parking garage conditions in terms of PM and NOx removal and degradation. In order to verify the effect of number and location of air purification units on the air quality at the ventilation outlet of parking garages, two existing parking garages are selected as case study. For both, a CFD model for air flow and pollutant dispersion will be developed in which the air purification technology will be virtually implemented. In this way several configurations can be tested. In addition, indoor air quality will be addressed in these models by virtually controlling the available thrust fans in the parking garages.

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Combined technologies for simultaneous abatement of air pollutants. 01/10/2020 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Several air cleaning technologies exist, each of them typically efficient against one type of pollutant. Consequently, it is interesting to combine different techniques in one system to remove a broad range of pollutants in one operation. In this way, we intend to solve the problems associated with the individual techniques. To address the challenges and investigate how combined technologies can be optimally integrated into one system, a multiphysics model will be developed for the combined technology, including submodels for all relevant phenomena. In addition, a test facility is being built in which both technologies can be thoroughly tested. Based on correlation of the model results and experiments, a thorough parameter analysis is performed to gain a full understanding into the interaction between both technologies.

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Photocatalytic Asphalt Pavements for the Port of Antwerp (PAPPoA): a feasibility study (Port of the future). 01/03/2020 - 30/12/2021

Abstract

Asphalt pavements need to be able to withstand the effects of weather (i.e. UV, rain, and freeze-thaw cycles) and (heavy) traffic loading during their service life, while maintaining the necessary mechanical performance, e.g. limited rutting, fatigue resistance and water resistance, and providing comfortable and safe driving conditions in terms of the surface properties, taking into account mostly skid resistance and texture. Recently, not only investigations related to the mechanical performance or overall environmental impact of asphalt pavements are conducted, but more attention is given towards smart pavements, e.g. photocatalytic pavements. In most cases, TiO2 nanoparticles (semiconductor material) are used in the field of photocatalysis for many purposes, mostly for air and water-pollutant photocatalytic degradation, as it is effective, non-toxic, easily available and cheap. Due to the huge surface area of road pavements and its vicinity to the exhaust gases from automobiles, the photocatalytic capability is quoted as promising for air-cleaning. TiO2 is able to react under UV-light (only 3-5% of the sunlight spectrum) with pollutant gases, such as NOx and SO2, creating water-soluble nitrates and sulfates respectively, which are easily removed from the asphalt pavement by rain. It also has the potential to degrade soot, (spilled) oil and volatile organic compounds (VOC). In this project, we want i) to further investigate further the effects of traffic on the photocatalytic efficiency, ii) to determine possible effects on traffic safety (skid resistance) and iii) to develop an in-situ test setup to measure the NOx reduction.

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AirTech'byDesign: Injecting Technology into Urban Design in the battle against Street Canyon Pollution. 01/10/2018 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

The poor air quality in our cities is currently at the centre of public debates on health living conditions and at the pinnacle of innovative urban planning and mobility policies. Especially, so-called 'street canyons' represent the most problematic arteries of our cities: these are narrow inner-city roads that are flanked on both sides by a continuous row of (high) buildings. In these street canyons, the air quality is often below the European standards and those of the World Health Organization. Both urban design and technological solutions, such as photocatalyst, have proven to be a powerful tools for improving the air quality and overall health. However, this research is often restricted to a single domain, sector or discipline (either bioengineering or urban design) and is often limited to the analysis of the impact of a single parameter on air quality. Secondly, the most well-known measures focus on the reduction of emissions of pollutants and are situated on a larger scale planning and policy level. At the local scale level of traffic intensive locations and the so-called street canyons, systematic research on the possible contribution of urban design and technological interventions to improve the air quality is lacking. Moreover, a group of pollutants under less public scrutiny, volatile organic carbon (VOC), are less susceptible to traffic regulations. The treatment of paving, walls and facades with a photocatalyst have proven to contribute to improve the air quality. However, in street canyons the airflow rates are often low for an optimal performance of these photocatalysts. Alterations of the urban design (that improve the air circulation and the integration of UV lightning) can seek VOC abatement in urban street canyons with minimized environmental burden. In conclusion, in terms of air quality on the level of street canyons, there exists a fundamental disciplinary schism between environmental and urban design sciences. Dealing with the spatial distribution of air pollution and high threshold to bridge technological innovation with urban planning, this research project aims to combine environmental and design sciences. Therefore, the Research group for Urban Development (Design Sciences), DuEL and BioGEM (Engineering Sciences) decided to team up to tackle together this pregnant challenge. The scientific challenge grasped in this project is threefold: (1) Understand the spatial and molecular distribution of VOC in urban environment, with focus on street canyons, (2) Maximize the effect of urban design changes to improve the health effects of street canyons by incorporating photocatalytic abatement technologies; (3) Formulate design guidelines for improvement of air quality in street canyons based on LCA metrics, and extrapolate the methodology to future technological improvements. Together these challenges constitute an opportunity to significantly lower the threshold for future developments to improve the health conditions in street canyons. Divided over four Work Packages and four years, this multidisciplinary approach of this challenge calls for a combination of methodologies, ranging from literature review, to research by design, over modelling and case study research. The Turnhoutsebaan in Antwerp is selected as case study, being representative for typical Flemish street canyons in terms of structural characteristics (length, height over width ratio), traffic density, demonstrated high air pollution levels and the availability (or lack) of green infrastructure.

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Pilot project air treatment car parks Zuiderdokken 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

The research group Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology (DuEL) of UAntwerpen will carry out research for MPA in the context of a pilot project of MPA in collaboration with QPark and MPA, whereby the Steendok and Kooldok car parks will be equipped with air purification installations with the best available air purification technology. The research group provides guidance in defining the objectives, the choice of the best available technology, the measurement, monitoring, follow-up, analysis and evaluation of the results in the short and long term.

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Study on exhaust emissions of wood stoves and PM reducing technologies. 12/10/2017 - 30/11/2017

Abstract

The aim of this project is to study literature on the real life emissions of air pollutants of different wood stoves and pollutant reducing technologies. Toxic and carcinogenic pollutants as PM, CO and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), PCB's and dioxins are emitted upon burning wood. Also condensable gases as source of secondary pollutants, such as PM, are emitted. Wood burning in Flanders is claimed to be responsible for 35% of the total emission of PM, 40% of the emission of dioxins and 87% of the emission of PAH. The contribution of household activities to the total amount of air pollutants is claimed to be rising.

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Development of a continuous soot flow inside a laboratory setup. 01/02/2015 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

Soot is one of the main culprits for health related problems. In our laboratory we are studying the degradation of soot. In order to do this, it is necessary to have a gas flow containing this soot. In this project, the construction of such a system, capable of generating a continuous and reproducible flow of soot that can be implemented inside the existing gas lab, is investigated.

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Research and development of Au/TiO2 foams for removal of NOx and VOCs from ambient air. 01/01/2011 - 31/12/2012

Abstract

The aim of this project is the removal of NOx and VOC in ambient air by an integrated air purification system with based on photocatalysis. During the project the main objective will be the development of a ceramic photocatalytic foam. Furthermore there will be Au deposition to enhance the photocatalytic activity. The whole project is taken as a process approach involving scientific/technological and socio/economical aspects.

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Research and development of Au/TiO2 foams for removal of NOx and VOCs from ambient air. 01/01/2009 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

The aim of this project is the removal of NOx and VOC in ambient air by an integrated air purification system with based on photocatalysis. During the project the main objective will be the development of a ceramic photocatalytic foam. Furthermore there will be Au deposition to enhance the photocatalytic activity. The whole project is taken as a process approach involving scientific/technological and socio/economical aspects.

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Research team(s)