New test to tackle performance gap on way to market

The University of Nottingham has developed a simple test for measuring the airtightness of buildings and is now looking to commercialise it with industry partners.

Its new PULSE test can be carried out in seconds, causes minimal disruption and could, say its creators, help to close the performance gap. It therefore offers significant potential advantages over the current industry-standard ‘blower door’ technique, which requires sealing off an external doorway with a fan and blowing air in or out to create a high pressure difference between inside and outside. It takes 15-30 minutes to carry out and must be undertaken at building completion.

The university is negotiating licensing of the technology to a joint venture of Elmhurst Energy, National Energy Foundation and Absolute Air and Gas.

Dr Ed Cooper, lead developer of the test, from The University of Nottingham, said: “The gap between design and performance of airtightness in buildings can at best cause discomfort for occupants and at worst create significant energy wastage and health problems.

“The new test, which is quick and easy to operate, could help mitigate these problems by enabling tests that can be conducted by anyone with minimal training. It could have a big impact on improving the performance of buildings.”

 The PULSE test releases a short burst of air that creates a low pressure pulse throughout the whole test building. This can then be used to measure the flow through leakage pathways and hence the airtightness of the building.

The latest version of the PULSE test comprises a composite compressed air tank and control box mounted on a trolley that can be wheeled into a building for testing. The test can be performed by construction workers multiple times prior to building completion.

Test results are calculated inside the unit and could have the potential to be automatically uploaded to the internet.

Development of the technology has been supported by EPSRC and InnovateUK. It has recently secured funding to be a pilot project for the £4.5m ‘Built 2 Specification’ (Built2Spec) research initiative, which is funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.


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