Energy vectors and storage
As we move towards cleaner renewable fuel supplies we face new challenges. Primarily, how do we move, store and then release energy efficiently? This question affects everything, from the technology we use every day, to the way we live, to our modes of transport.
Our scientists are setting out the case for integration of energy storage, in its broadest sense, with systems that harvest renewable energy, while recognising that energy storage is only one of several possible solutions for reconciling supply and demand. As renewable energy becomes an integral part of our network this vital work will be key to our sustainable energy future. Our research focuses include:
The last few years have seen new generations of electric, hybrid and biofuel vehicles on the road, and it is expected that hydrogen will play a key role in moving towards a sustainable alternative to petrol and diesel for transport applications, as well as being a key part of the energy mix. A major stumbling block to the widespread use of hydrogen is clean production and the need for new storage devices that can provide hydrogen when needed and allow vehicles to cover long distances. Our chemists and material engineers are working with collaborators such as General Motors and GE Aviation to develop new storage systems and solutions for vehicles, while E.ON New Build and Technologies are collaborators in the development of prototypes for use in power plants. We also work with the Indian government on initiatives for hydrogen stores for remote villages.
Batteries and fuel cells
Researchers at Nottingham are using their expertise in nanotechnology and advanced materials to improve batteries and fuel cells. Using new technologies and better manufacturing processes, we are making batteries cheaper, smaller, lighter, longer lasting and more environmentally friendly. As well as conducting research into lifecycle design and monitoring for extended performance, we are researching advanced materials to enhance the performance and extend the operating-temperature range of hydrogen fuel cells. This has potential uses in the transportation sector, as well as in domestic systems and small-scale electrical power applications.
Thermal energy storage
The heating and cooling of buildings plays a major part in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. Sensible, phase change and chemical thermal storage materials are being developed and tested for a variety of applications, from building space heating through to energy stores for concentrated solar thermal power plants. We are exploring energy storage before generation and developing systems with real inertial and compressed air energy storage. Materials properties are being improved via the design of nanocomposites and multiphase change materials (MCMs). These have greater flexibility than phase change materials (PCMs).
The academic theme lead for Energy Vectors and Storage is:
Professor of Dynamics & Director of the Rolls-Royce UTC in Gas Turbine Transmission
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