Research & Development
Our current research and development (R&D) projects have the potential to revolutionise the construction industry with innovative techniques for low-cost building and to make a major contribution to tackling global warming.
The Larkfleet Group of Companies, as part of a consortium of companies, developed Startlink Lightweight Building Systems (SLBS). The project was supported by funding from the UK government because of the potential significance of the technology being developed.
We have constructed a ‘test house’ using these materials and methods – the ‘Larkfleet PassiveHouse’ – which is built to Passivhaus and Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6 standards. It shows how lightweight pultruded glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) composite beams and panels could revolutionise the way in which homes are built.
The house is designed to be built using modular components that can be mass-produced in a factory and then easily installed on site with minimal labour and site waste. This allows the building to be completed in much less time than a traditionally built house.
The light weight of SLBS homes also offers the potential for them to be built on foundations which would rise in response to flooding. This would keep the houses themselves entirely clear of the water. This may make it possible to develop housing where it is not currently viable because of potential flood risks.
We are now building an experimental half-scale house on rising foundations in the garden of the existing Larkfleet PassiveHouse.
Green Deal Eco House
The Larkfleet PassiveHouse sits alongside another demonstration project – the Green Deal Eco House. This shows how housing and commercial buildings can incorporate many different energy saving measures.
Adjacent to the PassiveHouse and Eco House demonstration homes Larkfleet has installed an experimental solar system.
The Solar Steam technology is the first solar collector exploiting Fresnel lenses as concentrator system at this scale. European and International patents have been lodged. The system has enormous potential to help tackle global warming and generate ‘carbon-free’ thermal power to supply industrial process heating and cooling demand.
The Solar Steam prototype consists of several rectangular Fresnel lenses which focus the sun’s rays onto a metal tube filled with water. The Fresnel lenses frame rotates to track the movement of the sun through the sky during the day using a fully automatic system.
This initial trial installation will produce only a small amount of steam for experimental purposes. One of the objectives is to test the effectiveness of the equipment in British weather conditions – it should be possible to produce some power even on cold and cloudy days. If the equipment proves to be successful the major market is likely to be in warmer countries where there is sunshine for long periods of the year. The company is already in contact with potential partners.