Commissioned in October 2022, the Hull Royal Infirmary’s new heating system is based on an ICS Cool Energy multi-pipe Aptus chiller and an i-FH heat pump set to take over from gas-fired boilers. In the first five months of operations, the hospital’s average gas consumption dropped by almost 69%, reaching a record low of 40,748 kWh in February this year – compared with over 221,594 kWh in February 2022.
The hospital’s ‘Decarbonisation of heating’ project – involving switching from gas-fired boilers to renewable heating sources – is part of its Zero30 commitment to be carbon-neutral by 2030. Its work to use sustainable technologies in buildings has been recognised many times by the sector – including with the winning of IHEEM’s ‘Sustainable Achievement Award’ in 2021.
“Our efforts put us among the greenest hospitals in the UK, and we are aiming to become one of England’s first hospital Trusts to reach zero carbon emissions by 2030, up to 15 years earlier than the targets set by the Department of Health and Social Care,” said Alex Best, head of Capital at Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. “The Trust has already made some significant progress towards this goal. Our project with ICS Cool Energy, and the replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps, is an important milestone in our journey. We also created a solar farm of 11,000 panels, which currently generates enough power to meet the daytime needs of the entire hospital site.”
Philip Ayres, Regional sales manager at ICS Cool Energy, said: “Over the last few years, innovation in cooling and heating has progressed immensely. Today’s technologies offer significant environmental and energy benefits, compared with the ones they are designed to replace, such as fossil-fuelled heating.”
For the hospital, maintaining the right temperature, humidity, and air quality, is essential to ensure comfortable and healthy conditions for patient care and staff comfort. The existing heating plant serving two wards, office areas, and seven operating theatres at the Hull Royal Infirmary was based on 650kW gas boilers, and designed for a return hot water temperature of 80°C. This temperature range was also one of the main requirements for the new, ‘environmentally friendlier’ technology.
“We discussed our requirements with several installation companies, and they were all saying it wouldn’t be possible to retrofit the system using heat pumps,” said James Watts, the Trust’s Engineering Project manager. “The ICS Cool Energy team proved them wrong. ICS clearly explained the benefits of electrifying our heating, which involved adding a cascade system with the i-FH heat pump, and a multi-pipe chiller unit to our existing installation.”
The installed ICS Cool Energy Aptus multi-pipe unit can offer simultaneously up to 574 kW of cooling and 695 kW of heating, allowing the shift from a separate boiler and chiller to one single unit, reducing both operational costs and saving energy. With two independent water circuits, the units ensure precise temperature control for both leaving chilled and hot water. For the production of hot water, the units use renewable and recovered energy, and can replace the existing fossil-fuel boiler and chiller system to deliver both cooling and heating for the building with no direct greenhouse gas emissions.
To boost the hot water temperature to the 80°C levels desired by the hospital, the multi-pipe chiller was paired with the 429 kW i-FH water-to-water heat pump. The i-FH can deliver hot water between 50 °C and 80 °C, with source temperatures from +5 °C to +30 °C.
ICS Cool Energy says the installation and leading pipework for this project proved ‘an engineeringly complex task’, requiring changes to the infrastructure, and integration of the hospital’s chilled water and heat systems. Two of the old chillers were removed, and the gas-boilers temporarily kept for emergency. The hospital’s Building Management System (BMS) was programmed to efficiently manage the old and new elements of the cooling and heating systems.
“This project, and the significant progress in our decarbonisation efforts, have been made possible thanks to the government grants received by the Trust,” explained Alex Best. “This also requires us to calculate and demonstrate the resulting savings. During the first five months of operations, the average gas consumption for heating dropped by almost 69%. The new system has practically taken over the full heating load. with the boilers kicking in just sporadically. The decarbonisation aspect of the project is further reinforced, as we use the electric power coming from our solar plant to power the cooling and heating units.”