Around 14% of Britain’s electricity and £5.2 billion each year is spent on energy for cold across the grid and transport. These figures will be significantly higher in warmer countries, while in rapidly developing nations such as China and India investment in cooling is starting to boom.
Thermal energy, both hot and cold, is one of the major energy challenges. The provision of cold, or cooling, is integral to modern society; without it, the supply of food, medicine and data would simply break down. Yet cooling currently consumes large amounts of energy and causes a great deal of pollution. The Birmingham Energy Institute Policy Commission seeks to develop a systems approach to address this challenge.
The Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage are looking at the challenges for meeting the future demands to provide cold and power in both an environmentally and economically sustainable way, from the pure science to the logistics around scale and policy implications. Drawing on our own expertise and by working in partnership with other higher education institutions and with industry, we are becoming recognised as a Centre for excellence and a Centre for energy solutions.
Cold and Power Research:
Storing cold and power is an important part of how we can make best use of the resource, and also allows the storage of ‘wrong-time’ renewable energy to use in grid and transport cooling applications. This includes novel materials and methods for storing cold and power, efficient insulation materials and methods, and advanced materials manufacturing technologies.
Hybrid Engines: We are working to deliver a prototype transport auxiliary power and cooling system, funded by Innovate UK, in partnership with Dearman Engine Company and Hubbard Refrigeration Products. AuxPac will reduce CO2 emissions from refrigerated trucks and air-conditioned buses. The Dearman Engine Company is developing a piston engine that runs on liquid air delivering both power and cold, and which can serve as an efficient and zero-emission transport refrigeration unit (TRU)
Economy and Policy: This forms an integral part of the research at the Centre. This will provide guidelines for the scientific and technological research, and also provide evidence for Government, industry and funding agents for their decision making processes.