Supervisors: Prof. Kevin Kendall
DTC Project - Fuel Cell sytems & Integration
Peter graduated from the University of Birmingham in Electronic & Software Engineering. He has always had an interest in getting energy for free, or at least green energy, or best efficiency as worst case. After working in industry Peter has returned to pursue a PhD to further his interests in green technology.
In 2004, Peter bought a narrow boat shell to fit out, to continue his ethos to eco friendly future.
The boat currently has (peak) 480W of polycrystalline solar panels on the roof and 120W of amorphous panels on the side. There is a 250W wind turbines. However, a standard diesel engine is still required to move the boat (and top up the batteries October to March) but envisage with a few more panels, using hydrogen as an additional way of storing energy and an electric motor to move about, the boat could become completely independent of hydrocarbon fuels.
Peter's research is very much on a systems integration level but delving into issues with the fuel cells that make electricity from the hydrogen (or other fuels containing hydrogen), the temporary storage of that electricity in capacitors or batteries (allowing the size of the fuel cell required to be reduced and with it the total system cost) as well as the application of the electricity into, as an example, the electric motors in the vehicles as found driven around campus. Some waste heat is also produced in the fuel cell and, where appropriate, this can also be used, increasing the total efficiency.
Particular areas of research include maximising the energy gleaned back from the motor(s) through regenerative braking when the batteries may be too small to receive the energy as fast as it is produced and equalisation technology to solve problems associated with long strings of cells such as batteries or fuel cells particularly as they grow old and the performance of each cell varies or cuts out completely compared to the other cells in the rest of the stack.