Researchers hit the road for BBC Radio 5 Live's Energy Day

04 Sep 2013 13:48:29.687
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On Thursday 5 September BBC Radio 5 Live will dedicate 12 hours of programming to the national energy debate in ‘Energy Day’ and researchers from The University of Nottingham will be playing a key part in the event.

A 5m diameterEnergy Bag™ will be one of the most imposing displays by the Nottingham team. A machine capable of measuring the methane emissions from cows will be belching out information on their energy efficiency. And the Engineering Faculty’s new hydrogen powered van will also be on display.

Professor Gavin Walker, Chair of Sustainable Energy, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to talk to the media and public about sustainable energy — a key area of The University of Nottingham’s research. A real strength at Nottingham is our ability to take excellent research from the lab through to applied projects, which includes novel energy storage technologies such as the compressed air Energy BagTM and solid state hydrogen storage.”

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The event will transform the piazza outside the BBC studios at MediaCity in Salford into an energy showcase for renewable energy with various forms of power including solar, wind, bio and kinetic on display.

BBC Radio 5 Live is hosting Energy Day and one of their major challenges will be to keep an outside 5 Live studio on the air for 12 hours — from 7am in the morning to 7pm at night. The BBC have brought in specialists to create a micro-grid and measure the power generated by all the renewable sources and make that information available on line and on the big screen in the plaza throughout the day.

Hydrogen storage will play a key role in the European Union’s future energy strategy. Greater penetration of renewable energy such as sun, wind and tidal is leading to grid instability. Hydrogen can be generated from surplus electricity either for: energy storage for the grid; injection into the natural gas supply; or use in vehicles. For transport applications, hydrogen is a more environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, like petrol and diesel, because there are no carbon dioxide emissions. But the production and distribution will require large-scale storage solutions. 

The University has been using alternative fuelled vehicles in its Estate fleet and more renewable energy technologies are being installed, especially for new buildings like the Energy Technologies Building. The Engineering Faculty’s hydrogen van project compliments both activities. The University is collaborating with ITM Power on a Technology Strategy Board funded project — Ecoisland — and the hydrogen van is a key part of this collaboration. The data for the Nottingham refueller and the new hydrogen van will be used to optimise the technology for a scaled-up version of the ITM Power HFuel system for the Isle of Wight to run a small fleet of hydrogen vehicles next year.

The Energy Bag™ technology is centred on a simple premise — using giant wind turbines to compress and pump air into huge undersea Energy Bags™ anchored to the seabed or geological formations where deep water is not available. The high pressure air would be expanded in special turbo-generator sets to provide electricity as required and not just when the wind is blowing.

The University of Nottingham’s methane analyser is used to measure emissions from the breath of cows. These emissions are measured when the cow is feeding and can help identify animals that lose less of the energy from their food as methane gas. So, the less methane they produce the better an animal is at utilising the energy in their food and less gas will be lost into the atmosphere. The live demonstration will show exactly when feeding cows belch out methane. 

5 Live’s Energy Day is expected to feature on BBC Breakfast, BBC News, Blue Peter and BBC local radio. The event is being produced by TBI Media ( in partnership with the BBC.

To keep up with what’s happening see #energyday or follow UoNPressOffice on Twitter.

Story credits

More information is available from Emma Rayner, Media Relations Manager at The University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 951 5793.
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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