Advancing Sustainable Heating Solutions through District Heating Networks

Grantham Scholar Thomas Cowley’s research focuses on the District Heating Networks and their techno-economic and environmental implications.

The project

In his PhD project, Thomas focuses on developing and expanding District Heating Networks (DHNs) in the UK. The project aims to harness unconventional heat sources such as mine water and industrial waste heat to significantly reduce emissions in heat-designated zones. Using a comprehensive suite of mathematical modelling techniques, with a special emphasis on agent-based modelling, Thomas explores the techno-economic and environmental implications of DHNs. A crucial aspect of his research involves assessing the impact of policy interventions on the adoption and scalability of DHNs, aiming to provide insights for stakeholders and local councils in making strategic, sustainable energy decisions.

Alignment with UN goals

This project aligns primarily with SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), focusing on promoting renewable energy systems, sustainable urbanisation, climate change mitigation, and policy.

Experience at COP28

At COP28, Thomas engaged with leaders and experts in climate action, an experience he found enlightening and invaluable. It deepened his understanding of international climate negotiations and the importance and complexity of policies for sustainable development. The event exposed him to the issues and successes of COP in Dubai, sparking a strong motivation to make a meaningful impact and drive positive change in the world.

Outreach and Research

• Worked on decarbonisation in heavy industry at South Yorkshire Sustainability Centre. More information here.
• Published in Applied Thermal Engineering: Achieving emission reduction through the utilisation of local low-grade heat sources in district heating networks. DOI 10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2024.122381
• Authored a book chapter: Simulation of low-temperature district heat networks from mine water energy. DOI 10.1016/B978-0-443-15274-0.50233-X
• Wrote an article for The Chemical Engineer magazine: Read here
• 2021-2022 Outreach officer for GRAND at the University of Sheffield



Professor Solomon Brown

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering


Professor Rachael Rothman

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering