UNIVERSITY of Huddersfield scientists are forging a research partnership with a Yorkshire company that develops innovative and environmentally-sustainable ways to heat the home.
Trust Electric Heating, of Garforth, Leeds, has begun working with Professor Rakesh Mishra on a range of issues, including improvements to the efficiency of the electric radiators that it produces. Dr Karina Zala – who has earned a succession of engineering degrees at the University, culminating in a PhD in turbocharger technology – was appointed Research Assistant and has been based at Trust’s HQ for more than six months.
Professor Mishra hopes the new link with the “young and ambitious” company will be taken further with a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. “The financial investment that comes with a KTP means that universities can effectively act as Research and Development departments for small-to-medium sized firms, like Trust,” said Professor Mishra.
Trust has doubled in size in the last three years and aims to invest in the company through development research. A combined research team, comprising academics from the University and experts from the company, has already shown results.
Company Managing Director Fiona Conor now favours working with a university, which she feels offers a broader depth of evaluation, both of her products and the market, than simply adopting the standard assessment process offered by industry inspection organisations.
“Our objective is to be able to go to the marketplace with a product that is backed by independent testing against our competitors and then also use that knowledge to improve our own product range,” said Trust Electric’s Managing Director Fiona Conor.
Already the work has uncovered innovations which are now being applied to a new generation of radiator, competitive in terms of productivity, economy, the environment and, most importantly, safety.
“I feel very supported by the University and, unlike a general industry assessment, the research can be tailored to our needs at every turn. We now know that our product is completely safe and more advanced than many on the market today,” added Fiona.
Such is her confidence in the safety levels of Trust’s radiators, following the studies, that Fiona has produced a video for potential customers highlighting the level of safety, which also introduces them to the possible dangers present in other products currently on the market.
Trust has also sought scientific data about the components in its electric radiators – which incorporate convection technology known as Quadvex – so that their performance can be optimised.
Dr Zala, who was awarded her PhD during the University’s July 2019 awards ceremonies, has experienced placements with a range of manufacturing companies during her Bachelor’s, Master’s and finally Doctorate in engineering at the University of Huddersfield. She also managed the University’s Formula Student racing car team for a successful season.