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Durham University

Durham Energy Institute

Low Carbon Heat

Heat is used for domestic, commercial and industrial purposes and accounts for around a third of UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. [i]Other large emissions sources include power generation, transport, industrial processes and agriculture. Around 50% of heat emissions come from the domestic sector, 20% from the commercial sector and 30% from the industrial sector. In the UK domestic and commercial setting, 98% of GHG emissions from heat come from space and water heating, with 2% from cooking. In the industrial sector, only 13% come from space and water heating; the rest are from specialised industrial processes.

Heat decarbonisation is now the most pressing area of energy innovation required to achieve our net zero targets. The transition to lower carbon heating solutions is a key strategic area at Durham Energy Institute and our research addresses these challenges across power generation, industrial processes and domestic energy efficiency. Research into new low carbon heating resources and technologies, and their deployment in different societies stretches across multiple disciplines and research centres at Durham University.

The DEI led Durham Heat Hub, working with our partners in Durham County Council, brings together these multidisciplinary capabilities and provides links and information to policy makers, industry and communities.

Key Research Expertise areas:

  • Geothermal energy systems
  • Low grade energy recovery
  • Thermochemical innovation
  • Thermal Storage
  • Combined cooling and power (CCP)
  • Combined heat and power (CHP)
  • Thermal energy management
  • Smart thermal networks
  • Socio-technical energy systems
  • People-centred energy development, governance and equity
  • Affordable warmth

Key Researchers



Research areas

Dr Huashan Bao


Thermochemical technology for heating, cooling, energy storage, waste heat recovery and power generation.

Professor Sandra Bell


People-centred energy development, Socio-technical energy systems, Energy Vulnerability and Equity, Affordable warmth and Community Energy.

Professor Jon Gluyas

Earth Sciences

Geothermal, minewater heat, helium, carbon capture and storage and rare earth minerals

Dr Yiji Lu


Innovative integrated energy systems, thermal networks, conversion and thermal storage technologies, modelling and analysis of dynamic energy systems

Dr Zhiwei Ma


Thermal energy storage, low-grade heat utilization, and novel thermodynamic cycle development for heating, cooling, dehumidification and power generation.

Professor Tony Roskilly


Thermochemical heating and cooling systems, CCUS, hydrogen technologies and networks, the design, control, and operational optimisation of energy systems

Dr Andrew Smallbone


Energy systems integration, hydrogen transportation, hydrogen energy converters, thermo-chemical district heating networks, CCUS.

Dr Janie Ling-Chin


Thermal energy systems, health index for energy storage, LCA for new energy systems, CCUS.

Dr Hongjian Sun


Smart networks data processing and communications, demand side management and demand response, artificial intelligence for energy systems, and renewable energy sources integration.

Dr Yaodong Wang


Energy systems, including biomass and biofuels, trigeneration and cogeneration with thermal storage, renewable energy systems, organic Rankine cycle, thermal energy management, and building energy saving.