12 Dec New Surface Heating Technology Controls Room Temperature When and Where it’s Needed
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has announced a new spinout company – The Warming Surfaces Company Ltd. The company brings to market a fast response digital warming surfaces technology (Digital Warmth™) that changes room heating from slowly heating air with bulky heating systems to the rapid warming of interior surfaces and furnishings. This new approach to providing real time warmth drastically reduces the cost of heating and gives more control over intensity and area of what is being heated. The solution comes to market at an opportune time, as Europe is facing its biggest energy crisis in decades and is urgently looking for ways to cut CO2 emissions.
Heating is extremely energy intensive, especially in living spaces. 63% of all energy consumed by households in the EU goes to heating. This is multiple times more than the energy consumed in other everyday activities such as cooking, cooling, or lighting.
“Media outlets are full of tips on how to reduce your energy consumption by turning the lights off or cooking recipes that use less electricity. This is all important, but the real problem is the heating. This requires massive power production infrastructure, which is still largely fossil fuel based. An estimated 20% of carbon emissions in Europe are caused by heating of buildings,” says Jani-Mikael Kuusisto, CEO and co-founder of The Warming Surfaces Company.
“We are doing our part to solve this challenge. Our ultra-thin and light weight electrical heater technology sustainably brings warmth to the surfaces in our living environments. They are fast response and controlled real-time. We aim for over 20% energy consumption reductions on an individual building level, and further see this as a tool for reducing demands on heat and electricity infrastructure.”
The solution is two-fold: firstly, the company has created fast response heaters that are only 0.2-0.3 millimeters thick, diminishing the amount of materials used in heating systems. This makes it possible to have them inside of building materials such as laminate floors, doors and walls, and even in furniture and interior textiles. The thin digital heater structures are sustainably produced into the surface materials in high volume manufacturing processes, making this a lucrative business opportunity for the USD 149 billion floor material industry. With heaters hidden from the eye, architects can design modularity to buildings without the constraints of fixed bulky heating structures.
Secondly, current underfloor heating systems are expensive and cumbersome to install, and they are passive in the way they work: they are slow and as a result are left on to heat even when the rooms are not in use. With the digital warming surfaces technology, users can control their heating near real-time and as effortlessly as controlling lighting – when absent, the room temperature level can be dropped significantly, and turned quickly back on upon returning. “Building structures don’t need high temperatures for structural integrity. The fact that many houses are at 21 degrees celsius even when people are at work or on a holiday trip is wasteful and unnecessary. With our digital solution, you can start to heat up your house minutes before you return home, or even control which rooms are being warmed when you are at home,” says Terho Kololuoma, CTO and co-founder at The Warming Surfaces Company.
It’s not just private houses that need smart and fast digital solutions for heating. For example, hotels are wasting energy and pushing up their utility bills by heating empty rooms. With this technology, the hotel reception can turn on the heating when the customer is checking in, and the room will be at the perfect temperature when the guest arrives.
The Warming Surfaces Company’s technology can be retro installed into existing homes, which is a significant benefit in Europe where the European Commission has stated that up to 35 million buildings need to be renovated to be more energy efficient. To help with this, The Warming Surfaces Company is building its team and preparing for a first commercial launch with its go-to-market partners in May 2023.
“According to the UN World Cities Report, we’ll have 200 000 people moving into cities daily by 2050. This requires over ten thousand new buildings completed every single day. With our technology we can make sure that significantly less resources are consumed to provide heating systems to these buildings, and that their operation is more energy efficient,” says Jarno Vehmas, CPO and co-founder at The Warming Surfaces Company.
“A one celsius degree reduction in the indoor temperature of a house brings 5% savings in your energy bills. However, people who are used to warm houses are not that willing to compromise on their comfort. The European energy crisis won’t be over this winter or the next one – it will be an ongoing challenge until we have smarter, less wasteful means to produce warmth. We must reduce the environmental impacts of heating, but also acknowledge that warmth remains a basic human need,” Vehmas ends.
Warming Surfaces has been developed in the science spin-off incubator VTT LaunchPad, where VTT researchers and technology are brought together with the best business minds and investors to renew industries. VTT LaunchPad supports incubator teams to develop VTT owned IPR into fundable spin-off companies geared for global growth.