Creating sustainable energy solutions – from our campus to the city and beyond
The Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI) is developing and applying the technological innovation, original thinking and new ways of working required to create sustainable energy solutions and support the regional, national and global transition to a zero-carbon energy system.
Located in East Birmingham, the BEI is supporting Tyseley Energy Park’s mission to transform clean energy innovation in Birmingham and the West Midlands by stimulating and demonstrating new technologies and turning them in to fully commercially-viable energy systems that will contribute to Birmingham’s commitments to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030.
On the same site our Birmingham Energy Innovation Centre will promote innovation in waste, energy and low carbon vehicle systems across the West Midlands.
Investing in our campus to become net-zero will create the smartest energy campus and building management system in the world. This will create a dynamic living laboratory environment allowing transformative approaches in energy generation, energy systems management, social behaviour and big data to be developed and deployed.
Globally, a UK-China collaborative project led by our Centre for Energy Storage has led to the first commercial, large-scale, composite Phase Change Material demonstration plant that converts wind power that would otherwise have been wasted into heat that can be stored and used for space heating on a commercial scale.
Towards cleaner air and understanding our climate future
At COP26, the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education demonstrated the hydrogen fuel technology that powers HydroFLEX, the UK’s first mainline-approved hydrogen-powered train. The technology, (developed in partnership with Porterbrook and funded by Innovate UK, the UK’s national innovation agency), converts air into electricity and water, with batteries providing traction power to the train. The fuel cells are emission-free and generate clean electricity to propel the train.
WM-Air – the West Midlands Air Quality Improvement Programme will provide new understanding of pollution sources and levels in the region, and new capability to predict air quality, health and economic impacts of potential policy measures.
Understanding forested landscapes at BIFoR FACE: The large-scale BIFoR Free Air Carbon Dioxide (FACE) facility in Staffordshire (the only such facility in the northern hemisphere) is our key research infrastructure. BIFoR FACE has placed University of Birmingham scientists in a globally unique position to investigate the impact of climate change on trees. Recent discoveries reveal that mature oak trees will increase their rate of photosynthesis by up to a third in response to the raised CO2 levels expected to be the world average by about 2050.