The infrastructure to support thermal energy research at ERA includes:
Highview Liquid Air Energy Storage Facility
The UK’s first dedicated research facility for energy storage using cryogenic liquids was opened by the Secretary of State for Business, Sajid Javid MP in 2015. To support the University of Birmingham’s cryogenic research, Highview relocated its 350kW/2.5MWh LAES pilot plant to Birmingham. The technology can integrate waste heat or cold from industrial processes to increase the system’s overall efficiency to over 70%.
The technology could transform future energy systems, reducing the costs of integrating intermittent generation into the electricity system and ensuring power is available when it is most needed. The cryogenic energy storage plant is also connected to the University’s electrical grid, providing a small amount of power to the campus.
Smart Grid and Real Time Simulator
Unique facilities at the University of Birmingham are being used to improve understand of the operation, control and management of smart grid systems powered by energy from distribution sources. A smart power grid and real-time simulator provides the capability to realistically simulate smart power grids with the integration of distributed power generation; including wind, wave and fuel cell generation systems.
Thermal Properties Laboratory
Based at the University of Warwick, the Thermal Properties Laboratory will be extended into five newly refurbished test cells. The new space will accommodate additional equipment for analysing thermal properties of materials and provide important information on the behaviour of composite materials as they are used in thermal stores.
Thermal Technologies Laboratory
The Thermal Technologies Laboratory at the University of Warwick will be enhanced by the provision of further test equipment and control and data logging facilities. New in-house manufacturing capability will also be provided by the purchase of micro-TIG welding equipment and a laser cutter to allow rapid prototyping of the bespoke heat-exchangers being developed. New thermal baths will extend the ability to test thermal systems that require controlled heating and cooling
The European Bioenergy Research Institute
The £20m European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI)at Aston University contains state-of-the-art facilities including a demonstration power plant, thermal processors and laboratories which allow companies to explore and develop practical bioenergy solutions.
The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC)
The £40m Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) was founded by the Universities of Birmingham, Loughborough and Nottingham, in partnership with TWI Ltd. The collective vision for the MTC is for it to become a world-class global research facility, ‘making the future’ through transformational manufacturing technology development.
The International Thermal Energy Manufacturing Research Accelerator (I-TEMA)
The University of Birmingham and Loughborough University are entering into an exciting collaboration with the Manufacturing Technology Centre to develop the I-TEMA; co-funded by Government, industry and the Universities themselves.
The Centre will be leveraging Industry 4.0 and other novel manufacturing approaches with the aim of scaling up and modularising the production of technologies that will improve the efficiency of thermal energy systems.