Research students - Power and Energy Systems

Our research students are working on a wide variety of projects, some of which are described below. Visit the PhD opportunities page to find out more.

The Water-Energy Nexus - Quantifying the impact of future water-energy nexus constraints on the UK thermal generation power station fleet, both in terms of cost and technology

  • PhD student: Daniel Murrant
  • Supervisors: Dr Andrew Quinn & Prof Lee Chapman
  • Duration: 2013-2016

The combined effects of increasing water and energy demand due to a growing population and climate change pose a growing threat to many national infrastructure strategies. Within the UK there is concern that a future lack of available water will compromise the UK’s current energy policy to meet an increasing demand for a secure and affordable supply of electricity by more thermal generation. This project investigates this by modelling the water demand of the UK’s thermal electricity generation in 2030 and 2050, relative to 2010, for the strategically important Carbon Plan, and the Energy Technologies Institutes’ ESME generation pathways using water abstraction and consumption figures specific to UK power stations.

The Impact of Extreme Weather on the Power Supply to GB Railways

  • PhD student: Simon Hodgkinson
  • Supervisors: Dr Andrew Quinn, Prof Lee Chapman, Dr David Jaroszweski
  • Duration: 2015-2019

This research concerns the role of extreme weather as an instigator of cascading infrastructure failure. Extreme weather events can cause significant damage to the built environment, with infrastructure assets being of particular concern. Networked infrastructure, such as transport and energy, are interdependent in that they place demands upon each other for a resource. When one network is disrupted, the flow of a resource is also disrupted and failure can cascade on to dependent networks. There is a strong dependence of the railway network on the electricity system for a supply of electrical power, both for traction and safety-critical elements. 

This project aims to assess and quantify the problem of cascading failure from electricity to railway infrastructure during extreme weather events. It takes a practical data-driven approach, combining both infrastructure fault and meteorological data to identify the relationships between physical failure and weather events, along with an assessment of spatio-temporal fault distributions to identify particularly vulnerable assets. Subsequent projections of cascading failure under future climate scenarios will ultimately result in a series of recommendations or suggestions for the rail industry to ensure network resilience.

Performance of Multi-junction solar cells under high concentration ratios and the harsh environment in Saudi Arabia.

PhD Student:  Mr. Abdulrahman Aldossary

Supervisors: Dr. Raya AL-Dadah & Dr. Saad Mahmoud

Duration: 2012-2016

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) power has been one of the fastest growing renewable energy technologies and it is anticipated that this technology will play a major role in the future of global electricity generation. The main challenge of using PV is the high initial cost when compared to electricity generated from conventional sources. In order to increase the efficiency of solar power generation and make it more cost effective, different methods have been considered and several approaches have been introduced and investigated. One approach for cost reduction in solar power generation is using mirrors, reflectors or lenses to concentrate the incoming solar irradiation on the PV. Multi-junction (MJ) solar cells are recently favoured over single junction cells to be integrated in high concentrator PV (HCPV) systems as they are more efficient, have a better response to high concentration, and lower temperature coefficient. The new technology, III-V generation MJ solar cells, offer high efficiencies exceeding (43%) at high concentration compared to traditional solar cells made of a single layer of semiconductor material. However, high concentration will cause high and non-uniform PV cell surface temperature which reduces the efficiency and power output from the cell and ultimately degrades its life.

Therefore, effective cooling is necessary to dissipate the heat load on the solar cell surface and maintain the peak performance in all conditions. Moreover, thermal energy carried by the coolant can be utilized in different thermal application such as water desalination and air conditioning; this concept is called HCPV/Thermal. In this project optical, electrical and thermal modelling is undertaken to predict the performance of the HCPV/T under different solar irradiation and ambient conditions especially in harsh environment like Saudi Arabia where ambient temperature can reach up to 50oC in summertime. 

Performance of concentrated PV cells under the weather conditions of Baghdad

  • PhD Student: Mr. Wisam Al-Shohani
  • Supervisors: Dr. Raya AL-Dadah & Dr. Saad Mahmoud
  • Duration: 2014-2018

Solar energy is abundant in Middle Eastern countries like Iraq and harnessing such renewable energy source will contribute to reducing carbon emissions both locally and worldwide. The use of silicon based Solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity has increased significantly, however, their efficiency is low as they can only utilize part of the solar spectrum while the remaining part of the spectrum is converted to heat. Water can absorb the Ultraviolet (UV) and part of Infrared (IR), which are un-active spectra ranges for PV, and transmittance the Visible (VIS) and some of IR to the PV surface, which are active wavelength parts for PV.

This project investigates using water as an optical filter for Photovoltaic/Thermal (PVT) and Concentrating Photovoltaic/Thermal (CPVT) modules to reduce the heat accumulation in the cells and improve the overall efficiency.

Development of Rotary Wankel Engine for hybrid automotive applications

  • PhD student: Mrs Ghada Sadiq
  • Supervisors: Dr. R. K. AL-Dadah & Dr. Saad Mahmoud
  • Duration: 2013-2017

Hybrid engines for automotive applications offer the advantage of lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The rotary Wankel expanders outperform other types of expanders due to their compactness, low vibration, noise and cost. This project aims to develop a Wankel multistage expander for compressed air hybrid engine using computational fluid dynamics CFD modelling and experimental testing to optimize the performance of the developed expander.

Development of Thermoelectric Cryogenic Device for Cancer Tissue Ablation

  • PhD student: Miss Parya Karim Nejad Aliabadi
  • Supervisors: Dr. Raya AL-Dadah & Dr. Saad Mahmoud
  • Duration: 2012-2017

Currently, cryosurgical probes for cancerous tissues ablation use cryogenic fluids like liquid Nitrogen systems which are bulky and require many components to operate. Several drawbacks associated with these probes such as low controllability of probe temperature during freezing and the cooling rate, having less flexibility due to probe complex structure for having vacuum insulation and pressure proof. These probes were unable to perform rewarming after freezing process. Therefore separate warming element was utilized for rewarming the tissue after freezing cycles. In order to avoid the aforementioned complications and improve the practicability of cryosurgery for cancer tissue ablation, it would be advantageous to use thermoelectric device as an alternative to perform cooling and rewarming just by reversing its polarity. Thermoelectric devices are compact, lightweight, with no moving mechanical parts and are capable to control the temperature precisely.

Being environmentally friendly because of employing no refrigerant is another advantage of using thermoelectric cooler therefore leaking problems of refrigerant can be avoided. This study investigates the use of thermoelectric devices in cascaded form for generating the required freezing temperature for cancer tissue ablation. 

Adsorption water desalination using Metal Organic Framework Materials

  • PhD student: Miss Eman Elsayed
  • Supervisors: Dr. Raya AL-Dadah & Dr. Saad Mahmoud
  • Duration: 2014-2018

Water scarcity is a natural and human-made problem that is endangering the mankind existence. Seven hundred million people around the world are suffering from water scarcity; another 500 million are approaching this situation. The situation is expected to worsen by 2025. With such a growth rate, new water resources and treatment techniques are urgently needed. One of the most promising alternative water resources is seawater as water represents more than 70% of the planet and 97% of this water body is saltwater. Desalination is generally defined as the process by which potable water is produced from the seawater or brackish water with high dissolved suspended solids content (>35000 ppm). Adsorption desalination is a desalination method that has many advantages such as being environmentally friendly, running on low grade heat sources and requiring low capital cost.

This study investigates the potential of a new class of adsorbents, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), instead of the conventional adsorbents like silica gel and zeolite in the adsorption desalination application. 

Development of solar powered small scale organic Rankine power generation system for domestic applications

  • PhD student: Mr. Ayad Aljubori
  • Supervisors: Dr. Raya AL-Dadah & Dr. Saad Mahmoud
  • Duration: 2013-2017

Recently, the increase in fossil fuel consumption and associated adverse impact on the environment led to significant interest in renewable energy sources like solar and geothermal. Also, obtaining high turbine efficiency is necessary in order to achieve a high system performance in small size power output applications from low-temperature heat source and low mass flow rate. In this study, the design and 3D analysis and optimization of small-scale axial, radial inflow and outflow turbines are in investigated that can be utilized in Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) for power generation which operate with low-temperature heat source (<100°C) and low mass flow rate. 

Optimization of Small Scale Axial Turbine For Distributed Compressed Air Energy Storage System

  • PhD student: Mr. Ali Bahr Ennil
  • Supervisors: Dr. Raya AL-Dadah & Dr. Saad Mahmoud
  • Duration: 2013-2017

Distributed compressed air energy storage (D-CAES) cycle is attractive – environmentally friendly energy storage option in small scale for stand-alone electricity generation using renewable energy sources. This research aims to improve the overall performance of D-CAES through turbine single and multi-operating point optimization. The dynamic modelling for the cycle is carried out using Matlab/Simulink for both charging and discharging phases in order to identify the turbine operating map. In D-CAES operation, there is a significant variation in air thermodynamic properties and as a result the turbine will be optimized for a range of operating condition by using CFD modelling and multi objective genetic algorithm optimization to achieve higher efficiency levels during discharging phase.

Enhancing the performance of heat pipe based solar thermal collector

  • PhD student: Mr. Ahmed Alammar
  • Supervisors: Dr. Raya AL-Dadah & Dr. Saad Mahmoud
  • Duration: 2013-2017

Heat pipes are effective devices for transporting thermal energy from one point to another using evaporation and condensation processes in a closed container. They have the advantages of low thermal resistance, compact and uses small amount of working fluid thus are used in wide range of applications such as electronics cooling, heat exchangers and solar collectors. Considerable interest has been paid to wickless Two-Phase Closed Thermosiphon (TPCT) heat pipes due to its simple construction and low cost. Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modelling of a heat pipe is a powerful tool that can be used to investigate the complex physical phenomena of the evaporation and condensation phase change processes inside thermosiphon heat pipes.

This work aims to develop a CFD simulation model of two phase flow inside thermosiphon heat pipe to investigate heat pipes in terms of temperature distribution and thermal resistance using FLUENT (ANSYS 15). The work aims to also investigate the effect of critical parameters like fill ratio, surface texture and working fluid on heat pip performance.

Solar Powered Small Scale Air Brayton cycle for Power generation

  • PhD student: Mr. Ahmed Daabo
  • Supervisors: Dr. Raya AL-Dadah & Dr. Saad Mahmoud
  • Duration: 2013-2017

Small scale solar thermal open Brayton cycle with Concentrated Solar Power CSP has the potential to offer higher power generation, higher efficiency and lower cost compared to other cycles. This project aims to develop an efficient small scale solar powered Brayton cycle through the optimization of the solar receiver configuration using advanced ray tracing simulation and thermal modelling. Also, the project aims to develop small scale turbines (axial/radial) that suit the various cycle operating conditions.