Developing fuels for the future, Professor Kevin Kendall, University of Birmingham
Title: Professor Kevin Kendall – Developing Fuels for the Future
Duration: 2.35 mins
Speaker Names (if given):
S1 Professor Kevin Kendall
S1 Our current research is on hydrogen fuel cells and the applications for vehicles, buildings and gadgets like computers, which will all have fuel cells replacing batteries in a few years’ time. The impact is pretty profound because we all know that we’ve got too many carbon emissions; too many emissions from diesel exhausts and from dirty buildings, and we all want to clean them up – and hydrogen is the cleanest fuel.
Fuel cells are the most efficient devices for generating energy; so that combination of low emissions and efficient energy is the real key to the future for lower carbon. I think the fact is that people feel this research is now going somewhere very definite; that the cars that people drive say in five or ten years will be hydrogen or certainly electrical, possibly driven by hydrogen fuel also. Your houses will be much cleaner; they will have renewable fuels, again driven by fuel cells and many of the things that we use as gadgets like computers, cameras– they will also have fuel cells.
So this is happening now. I think the people, consumers if you will, they really feel something is happening here and if you look at the big industries like Johnson Matthey our biggest fuel cell company for catalysts – remember, all fuel cells have catalysts in them – big companies like Rolls Royce are interested in better powered devices, more efficient high generation devices. Companies like Intelligence Energy want to make vehicles; fuel cell vehicles.
These people are driving them because they recognise that with the markets out there, a need for trained people, a need for new ideas which postgraduates will bring in; so really in the next few years things are really going to move along at a good pace. Opinion in the past was that we don’t have to do much about energy, it’s OK, we’ve got lots of oil left, but now people realise we do need to do something. Too many emissions, too inefficient devices – for example, your car is only maybe 10% efficient; is that OK? No it’s not: we have to get more efficient and cleaner.
I think it’s down to undergraduates as well because we have projects that undergraduates, for example in the second year, we run projects on applications for fuel cells and hydrogen is one of the projects they can volunteer for. Of course there are many other projects on food and biotech and other things, but that’s one topic they can look at and students are quite enthusiastic about that. And then in the final year of course they’re doing major projects, design projects with say the big industries, for example it could be Johnson Matthey and those projects, again, could be related to catalysis or to this sort of energy field.
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