Making a world of difference through collaborating

14th April 2016

As this is “Earth Month” and April 22 is dedicated “Earth Day”, we decided to ask energy entrepreneur Andrew Bissell about his potentially game-changing thermal energy storage battery, which he developed with the help of academics following an introduction through Interface.

Andrew’s company Sunamp Ltd, is a world leader in thermal energy storage, having developed a highly efficient, non-toxic, low cost heat battery system using Phase Change Materials, allowing energy to be stored, as heat, when it’s available and released when needed.

Sunamp Ltd’s ongoing collaboration with academics has included working with a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Associate.

What inspired you to set up your own business?

I wanted to make a really significant difference to climate change, and I knew I wasn’t cut out to be a campaigner.  I wanted to change the world through business. Creating a new technology and bringing it to market is my forte. There is clearly a crying need for innovation in heat energy storage to make it much more compact than hot water tanks. Hot water tanks would easily be recognisable to a Victorian and probably to an ancient Roman! I wanted to improve on that dramatically – which is what we have achieved with Sunamp Heat Batteries: over 3 times smaller for the same energy stored.

Where do you want to take the business – regional, Scotland-wide or global?

Global!  We have had enquires from Australia, China and Everest base camp in Nepal!!

What was the issue/hurdle you wanted to overcome by working with academics?

Sunamp uses Phase Change Materials (PCMs) to create high energy density, compact systems that are capable of storing and releasing heat. The patented, non-toxic Sunamp Heat Battery technology stores and provides heat to warm a building or deliver hot water. The energy is released in much the same way as a hand warmer works. In 2009, inconsistencies led Sunamp, through Interface, to ask Professor Pulham and his team at the University of Edinburgh to analyse the PCMs they were using. They did this by developing additives, which would reduce the effects of any incongruent melting and, therefore, significantly improve the PCM’s heat storage properties.

What benefits did the collaboration bring to your business?

Great – Phase Change Material with no degradation. A super relationship with The University of Edinburgh, Chemistry Department and Colin Pulham and an excellent Materials Scientist, David Oliver who did his PhD through the CASE Programme and is now a valued member of the Sunamp staff.

What gets you up on a Monday morning?

My wife, that’s who! But honestly, I love what I do, it’s great fun and I work with a great bunch of people.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

A train driver.

If you could change the world, what would you do first?

Reverse climate change back to pre-industrialisation levels.