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Mechanical Engineering Spearheads Innovative Research in Energy Efficiency and Renewables in Buildings

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Mechanical Engineering Spearheads Innovative Research in Energy Efficiency and Renewables in Buildings

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, for the past several years has been conducting research in energy including renewable energy.

In more recent times, the research focus has been on energy efficiency in buildings and powering these buildings with renewables. This research drive is conducted in collaboration with both local and international partners including the Ghana Energy Commission, DANIDA, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), etc. To train the next generation of energy efficiency innovators, the Department conducts these research with strong involvement of students at various levels including undergraduate and postgraduate students (MSc and PhDs).

One of the success stories through this research, with support from DANIDA, is the fabrication of a grid-tied solar powered air-conditioning system used in one of the offices at the Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Laboratory at the Department. The system depends on solar in the daytime and on grid electricity in the night time.

Also, the Department has developed an innovative sandcrete-sawdust composite building material that is able to reduce wall transmission load in buildings. Preliminary investigation has shown that use of the composite material in buildings will be able to reduce electricity consumption of air-conditioners by about 25-30%, compared to conventional buildings materials used in Ghana.

As part of its ENERGY EFFICIENCY RESEARCH AGENDA 2020, the Department intends to rollout some of the key findings emanating from their research through support-based pilot projects in public and commercial buildings in Ghana that will be able to save substantial amount of electricity in these buildings. In particular, the Department is collaborating with the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) to support KNUST to undertake energy efficiency project to reduce its electricity consumption and also diversify its energy sources to include solar energy.

Project coordinators: Prof. George Yaw Obeng & Dr. Richard Opoku