And no we don’t mean the large cat! Cheetah is a demand controlled kitchen ventilation system. It works by controlling ventilation fan speeds to match extract rates with cooking demands, thereby optimising energy use. The fans are set to a minimum speed as default but as smoke, high temperatures in ducts, low air flow in ducts and high levels of carbon dioxide in the kitchen are detected, demand based extraction automatically increases.
The system has been installed in the kitchens at five food outlets across campus – Shamrock Café, Wantage Hall, The Square, Park House and Park Eat. The systems on campus use an optical laser and temperature detection. A beam shoots across the canopy and if it is broken by steam and smoke, it ramps the fans up. If the temperature is low and the beam is constant then it slows fans right down.
The patented Cheetah system was developed by Quintex and works on the principle of the ‘Affinity Laws for Centrifugal Loads’. This highlights the non-linear relationship between fan speed and energy consumption meaning that small or modest reductions in fan speed can lead to significant savings in energy. For example, reducing the speed of a fan by 10%, reduces the electricity use of the fan by approximately 25%, whilst a 20% reduction in fan speed equates to an approximate 45% energy saving.
As a result of installing the system, it is estimated that an annual energy saving of 137,418 kWh has been achieved, equating to a cost saving of over £20,000. This is equivalent to removing the electricity demand of more than 45 houses from the grid!*
This project is one of many sustainability initiatives being implemented by the University’s hospitality team. There are plans to completely remove gas from the University’s catering facilities over time, for both cooking and heating purposes. As part of this plan, a new air source heat pump is just about to be installed in the Park Eat restaurant. There is also a project planned to install a comprehensive energy monitoring system at this restaurant which will enable energy usage and trends to be monitored at a very granular level, down to individual items of equipment. This data will be invaluable in enabling us to identify further opportunities for optimising equipment and its use, to reduce energy and carbon emissions further.
Sustainability team Energy Officer, Dr Sam Mudie, completed her award-winning doctorate in “Energy Use and Reduction from Commercial Catering” at the University in 2017. Dr Mudie said “It is a great privilege to be putting the findings from my thesis, produced at Reading, into practice within the University catering operation. I feel very fortunate to work with a manager as forward thinking as Matt Tebbit, to take our hospitality services to Net Zero Carbon over the coming years.”
Alongside energy saving projects, our sustainable food policy details other initiatives which have been implemented to improve sustainability. Did you know that the University’s Catering Services were recently awarded the Sustainable Restaurant Association’s ‘Food Made Good’ award, achieving the maximum three star rating? This is testament to the great work being undertaken by the hospitality team around sustainable meals. According to the Association, the food we eat accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Staff and students eating in our cafes and restaurants can rest assured that steps have been taken to make our meals more sustainable and we are always looking for ways to keep improving.
*Typical Domestic Consumption Values (TDCVs) are industry standard values for the annual gas and electricity usage of a typical domestic consumer. The latest figure released by Ofgem (2020) is 2,900 kWh electricity use for a medium sized house.