Scottish innovative heating solution trials in Living Lab

Published: 7 April 2020

Scottish innovator Biskit Controls has become the latest business to begin testing innovative heating solutions in our Living Lab.

Scottish Innovator: Biskit Controls

Based in Thornhill just outside Stirling, Biskit has developed a patented technology called the Hydro Genie – that is designed to improve the performance of central heating systems.

Fitted alongside an existing boiler or heat pump, the Hydro Genie removes oxygen bubbles from the circulating water to improve heat transfer from the boiler to the water and from the water to radiators. The innovation is designed to reduce the amount of gas needed, lower energy bills and carbon emissions, while keeping the home warmer.

The Living Lab is a unique real-world trial facility of 100 connected homes, where innovative businesses can rapidly design, market-test and launch new energy products and services, or as in the case of Hydro Genie, demonstrate and validate existing innovations.

With rooms-by-room sensors and smart controls throughout Living Lab homes, Biskit will can gain real-world, in-depth data and insightful consumer feedback on their products, services and business models.

Heating Innovation

Jim Bisset, founder of Biskit Controls, said: “”The Living Lab trials will be very, very, worthwhile to provide real-world validation to reinforce the results of the testing we did with the Scottish Environmental Technology Network in conjunction with Strathclyde University. The tests showed energy and carbon savings of up to 49.8% for domestic homes and up to 39% for commercial buildings.

“I received the patent for Hydro Genie in 2018, which see’s Hydro Genie applying fluid dynamics and Henry’s Law to wet heating systems. Assuming constant temperature, Henry’s Law predicts that dissolved gasses are released from liquids when pressure is reduced. The absence of dissolved oxygen improves the efficiency of heat transfer and retention.

“So by removing the dissolved oxygen from the central heating’s circulation and electronically controlling the now enhanced heat, savings and reductions in CO2 emissions can be made.

“So by removing the dissolved oxygen from the central heating system you induce lower pressure on the fluid and it improves heat transfer.

“After designing and testing the device, I put it into my own heating systems, monitored it and discovered it was doing something incredible.”

With almost 300 units so far installed, Jim’s medium term ambition is to apply for accreditation under the government’s Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme for energy efficiency products that help reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty.

And to scale up, with discussions underway to keep the innovation manufactured locally by veterans from Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company.

Jim continued: “The results from the Living Lab will help with accreditation under the ECO 3 scheme and as a sales tool to promote to businesses.”

The Hydro Genie System was fitted into five homes within the Living Lab in late winter, which almost straight away saw some of the heating systems switch into “economy mode”. The devices will be installed into a further five homes later this year.

Living Lab: Home energy innovation

Biskit Controls gained access to the Living Lab through a competition run by Energy Systems Catapult at the end of 2019, looking for SMEs developing innovations that enable the adoption of low carbon retrofit measures to improve home comfort, energy efficiency and drive down consumer bills.

The Catapult offered access to a £30-£45k package of services for up to 3 SMEs, with each SME needing to fund £5-£10k of the services, including:

  • Consumer insight analysis – offering the product to Living Lab homes, with the aim of trialling it in up to five homes. The Catapult will gather feedback from consumers in the Living Lab on the installation (for products), set up, early use and longer-term use to identify ‘positives/negatives’ and opportunities for improvement.
  • Technical performance analysis – the Catapult will collect, analyse and report on data collected from the homes through its digital research platform during the trial (e.g. gas consumption, air temperature, relative humidity, local weather).
  • Home Truths panel – testing the SME’s proposition through our panel to provide feedback from circa 500 consumers.

Marc Brown, Living Lab commercial lead, said: “We were looking for businesses that have the consumer at the heart of their innovations, which encourage the uptake of low carbon technologies, heat services and energy efficiency measures – and we’re thrilled to have Biskit Controls demonstrating their Hydro Genie System.

“Living Lab trials can help SMEs gather real world data to validate the benefits and appeal of products and services or provide evidence to attract further investment.

“We want to help innovators secure a deeper understanding of their customer value proposition including fuel poor or vulnerable consumers, to overcome potential uptake and delivery challenges, and to improve business planning and support launching new products and services to market.

“Energy Systems Catapult will soon be launching free virtual workshops with our expert Living Lab teams to discuss opportunities for SMEs to test and demonstrate innovations when we emerge from the current shutdown.”


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