Birmingham Energy Institute newsletter - February 2015

February 2015

Dear colleague,

Welcome to the dedicated Birmingham Energy Institute newsletter. 

The Birmingham Energy Institute is driving technology innovation and the thinking required to solve the challenges facing the UK as it seeks to develop sustainable energy solutions in transport, electricity and heat. Energy lies at the heart of a national revolution driven by the imperatives of low generation and energy security.

Co-ordinated research, education and the development of global partnerships is at the heart of our vision drawing on our recognised centres of excellence in:

  • Energy Storage
  • Nuclear Energy
  • Fuel Cells and their Fuels
  • Railway and Automotive Systems
  • Energy Policy and Economics

In this edition, I am pleased to highlight, among a number of exciting updates, a new collaborative project to develop cutting edge robotic techniques to assist nuclear waste clean-up, as well as a £350,000 EPSRC International collaborative research grant to clean-up radionuclides in the environment and the appointment of Professor Richard Williams to Guest Professor at Southeast University, Nanjing for his contribution to energy research.

The second part of this newsletter highlights upcoming events in the Institute.

We look forward to receiving your thoughts, comments and opinions, but, most of all, your involvement.

Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute




Birmingham set to lead the way on the Cold Economy
The Carbon Trust has issued calls for the Government and industry to collaborate to enable the UK to seize the opportunity of becoming the global leader in developing low-carbon cooling technologies for an emerging 'cold economy' brought about by an increasing demand for an emerging 'cold economy' brought about by an increasing demand for cooling.

The report, The Emerging Cold Economy, states that the global demand for cooling could grow to three times the current UK electricity capacity by 2030, due to the world's expanding population and the growing middle class demographic in emerging markets.

Read the full article and hear from Professor Richard A Williams.


Cutting-edge robotic techniques in development to assist nuclear waste clean-up

A collaborative EU Horizon 2020 project including the University of Birmingham, National Nuclear Laboratories (NNL), French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) will commence in May 2015 to develop cutting-edge new robotics techniques to assist the future clean-up of legacy nuclear waste.

The three year project titled 'RoboticManipulation for Nuclear Sort and Segregation (RoMaNs)' has been awarded6.4million Euros by the European commission.

Read the full article


£350k EPSRC International Collaborative Research Grant to clean-up radionuclides in the environment
A collaborative £350,000 Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant between the University of Birmingham, Advanced Science Research Centre, Japanese Atomic Energy Agency, Kyushu University, and the College of Engineering at Shibaura Institute of Technology was issued in November 2014 titled 'Novel restoration materials for clean-up of radionuclides in the environment'.

Despite tremendous technological and financial effort in Japan to deal with the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident many challenges remain. This project will seek to address those challenges.

Read the full article


Public support for nuclear energy at an all time high
Professor Martin Freer comments on the new ComRes opinion poll that found that a majority of adults now support the use of nuclear power to provide energy in the UK.

"In delivering policy the hands of the government are often tied by the mood of their public. In the case of the UKs need to drive down the national deficit, which presently stands close to 100%of GDP, the Coalition government found a very simple message which publically resonated and created a shared ownership for the need for austerity - namely a situation where the Government borrows one in four of every pound it spends is not sustainable..."

Read the full article


Singaporean delegation explore innovative Birmingham research in Cold and Power
The College of Engineering and Physical Sciences recently hosted a visiting delegation from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore.

The College welcomed delegates for a day of discussion and to explore its projects focusing on 'cold and power'. In attendance were;Professor Tay Beng Kang, Associate Dean (Research), College of Engineering: Professor Louis Phee, Chair, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Professor Alessandro Romagnoli, Assistant Professor, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Read the full article



UK's first independent research to monitor fracking as it happens
The University of Birmingham will take part in a national environmental research programme carried out by a UK Consortium and led by the British Geological Survey (BGS).

Birmingham is a member of the consortium research team, aiming to enhance the scientific understanding and knowledge of the effects of shale gas operations on the environment.

Read the full article


Richard A Williams appointed Guest Professor at Southeast University in Nanjing
Professor Richard A Williams OBE, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has been appointed Guest Professor at Southeast University in Nanjing, China in acknowledgement of his work one energy policy and technology.

Read the full article


International High Speed Rail Conference video highlights
Watch a selection of interviews with keynote speakers from the conference and other event highlights.

2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Shinkansen high speed line in Japan. The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) celebrated this historic occasion by holding an International Conference on High Speed Rail in December 2014.

Read the full article


pic TEDx 2015

Saturday 21 March, 10am - 4pm
Aston Webb Building, University of Birmingham

TED is a non-profit organisation that is devoted to spreading inspirational ideas in the form of 18-minute long talks. TEDx is run independently to share ideas in communities around the world.

fter a successful first event last year, TEDx returns to the University of Birmingham in March. With ideas worth spreading, some ofBirmingham’s leading academics will grace the TEDx stage in the Great Hall. Preconceptions will be challenged and debate will be sparked.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute, will give a talk titled: ‘It is time to go small and nuclear’ about the challenges associated with nuclear energy.

Full event details are online


Hydrogen Energy - Using materials to purify, compress and store H2

Wednesday 18 March, 5.15pm
Poynting Building, University of Birmingham

Inaugural lecture of Professor David Book
Professor of Energy Materials

David Book will discuss how hydrogen has the potential to help store low-carbon energy and to transfer energy to where it is needed. It can be combined with oxygen from the air in a fuel cell, to produce electricity, with only water vapour as the exhaust gas.  However,for hydrogen to become a ubiquitous energy carrier -- that can be used,for example, for zero-emission transport and helping balance the electricity grid -- we need to: produce low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen;develop low-cost, durable fuel cells; and be able to effectively store,purify and compress hydrogen.

Full event details are online


Education and Training in Nuclear Decommissioning 

Thursday 16 - Friday 17 April
Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham

A distinguished array of European and International representatives from the nuclear industry and government agencies will come together to talk about the challenges of education and skills for future nuclear decommissioning.

The workshop will explore the education and training needs in nuclear decommissioning including:

What are the required competences?
What are the education and training opportunities?
How can the sector stimulate interest and future talent in the sector?

Full event details are online

The Birmingham Energy Institute
B15 2TT




College of Engineering and Physical Sciences