Global Challenge: Develop a sustainable energy resource
Waves, tides and hydro are plentiful sources of energy globally, especially for the UK, which is surrounded by the sea and benefits from generous rainfall. Off the west coast of the British Isles there is a vigorous climate of sea waves. Tidal variations in sites such as the Severn Estuary are among the highest in the world. The challenge is to tap into this plentiful source of energy, deal with tidal variations and develop a sustainable energy resource to meet the increasing demand for renewable energy.
Solution: Conversion of energy from water sources
Energy Lancaster has expertise in many aspects of conversion of energy from renewable water sources, e.g. wave and tidal energy, hydro power and the technology that supports water renewables. Skills range from the technical concept evaluation, device modelling, scale testing, control optimization, condition monitoring and design assessment through to environmental impact modelling and economic evaluation.
We have a long track record of generic and applied research into extracting power from waves and have developed a wide range of devices, from inception to scaled testing in our excellent wave tank facilities. We are currently investigating the potential of multi-axis wave energy converters that could improve power capture for a new generation of devices.
Research focuses on devices for tidal stream energy generation. One of our latest projects is investigating multi-element high-lift devices. These devices will offer significantly improved operational performance, improving the overall energy yield in both spring and neap tidal cycles. We are also involved with a number of regional tidal barrage proposals.
Hydro-power turbines produce one fifth of the entire world's electricity and work is in progress on the exploitation of hydropower by converting water pressure into air pressure, which allows the use of muchs maller, less-expensive turbines running in air. These turn much faster than the water turbines that would otherwise be used, eliminating the need for a step-up gearbox to drive the generator. The system under development uses siphons, bridging the weir or barrage. The aeration of the water makes the system attractive for use in water treatment plants.
Our latest regional project is the Hydro Resource model project, which looks at the economic and technical issues of hydro sites in the northwest.
Support technology includes instrumentation and control, grid integration and monitoring, reliability and condition monitoring of electrical networks, sub sea connection, and in addition to this we have expertise in environmental impact studies and device economics. Other technical expertise includes the Fluid Machinery Group who specialise in the technology for moving fluids. All aspects of pumps, compressors, fans, blowers, air and water/oil motors are among our interests, in diverse industry sectors from water utilities and paper making through to petrochemical, power, nuclear, chemical and process industries worldwide.
- A 50-100th scale wave tank, 11m x 2.5m, independent paddle control
- Computer aided design, modelling and simulation
- Extensive prototyping and workshop facilities
- Low head hydro test rig
- Tidal flume 2.5m width, variable depth and flow
We encourage enquiries from individuals to institutes to make use of our expertise in the field of renewable energy and excellent facilities. Whether it's proof of concept testing or more in-depth model validation, we welcome the opportunity to work with external researchers, businesses and other organistaions.
Working in Partnership
Current research projects range from single projects conceived and developed within Energy Lancaster to multi-million, multi-institutional global projects. We have ongoing relationships with a broad range of industrial partners including BAE Systems, BP, Centrica, DEFRA, Yorkshire Water, Fiat, IBM, E-ON, Research Councils UK Energy and Pilkington and are seeking a range of new collaborations.
For further information contact: Ian Nickson Business Partnerships Manager B9 Engineering Building Lancaster University Lancaster LA1 4YR +44 (0)1524 594259