Centre for Research into Energy, Waste and the Environment

Centre for Research into Energy, Waste and the Environment

Generating power and lowering carbon

Over 80% of current UK energy demand is provided by hydrocarbon fuels. The Centre’s focus is to provide efficient, reliable heat and power generation, whilst moving towards a lower carbon economy.

Research work involves mitigating the effect of carbon-based heat and power generation (coal, gas, oil) systems, for example, through carbon capture technologies, while developing and improving the efficiency of renewable power sources such as biomass, marine power and solar power.

The utilisation of traditional fuels and the introduction of new energy technologies require careful management of the various risks and hazards posed. Whilst energy may be considered on a supply/demand basis, this needs to be controlled by a systematic (management) process.

It is essential to analyse the impact of current and future energy utilisation in terms of health, safety and environmental management. The Centre specialises in the characterisation of hazards from traditional and alternative fuel sources, energy surveys and audits for high energy demand leisure centres and hospitals, and waste-to-energy schemes. Current estimates are that the UK’s Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) could produce up to 12% of our electricity requirement.

The Centre’s work also focuses on the application of new fuels and propulsion technologies for the transport sector, primarily automotive and aerospace. The transport sector is perhaps the most challenging area in the shift towards a sustainable energy economy, as it is still currently increasing its CO2 emissions, in contrast to the industrial and domestic sectors.

In order to enhance the understanding of energy systems investigations are undertaken into fundamental fluid dynamic and thermodynamic processes using new mathematical techniques and the development of novel laser diagnostic and experimental techniques.

Energy, risk and environmental management

Current projects analyse the impact of current and future energy utilisation in terms of health, safety, and environmental management, and include:

  • Modelling accidental atmospheric dispersion of pressurised liquefied fuels (e.g. LNG, petroleum, etc) on behalf of an industrial consortium, led by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) sponsored by Gaz de France, Norske Hydro, RIVM, Statoil & Total
  • Quantifying and mitigating industrial combustion hazards such as single or 2-phase explosions (for amongst others, BP, QinetiQ and BOCEdwards)
  • Development of a sustainable waste to energy plant using novel technology for municipal waste
  • Sampling & measurement of aircraft particulate emissions in a multi-partner pan-European project sponsored by European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA)
  • Development of a sustainable strategic direction for recycling, using a range of bespoke technology solutions (LAS Recycling Ltd.)
  • Improved utilisation and efficiency of imported and indigenous fuels used in an integrated steelworks environment

Low carbon heat and power generation

The work of this Centre involves the mitigation of the effects of carbon based heat and power generation systems through, for example, carbon capture technologies, as well as developing and improving the efficiency of renewable power sources. Projects include:

  • Co-ordinating a 10 partner EU consortium investigating co-firing biomass with coal (POWERFLAM)
  • One of 23 partners in an EU programme investigating alternative fuels for gas turbine utilisation (AFTUR)
  • An EU-funded investigation into the potential for underground coal gasification in Wales
  • An EU-funded investigation into the potential of fuel crops for co-firing in coal-fired boilers (with RWE npower and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, IBERS)
  • A 12 partner EU consortium (led by Ansaldo, Italy) to design and develop an ultra-high temperature ceramic heat exchanger for industry
  • Carbon capture technologies including utilisation of various hydrogen-rich process gases in gas turbines (through European Turbine Network) and oxy-fuel burner development
  • Optimisation of marine turbine technology through EU and industrial sponsorship
  • An 8 partner EU consortium (Biogen) to design and develop a range of biomass gasifiers

Alternative transport, fuels and technologies

The key areas of strength for this Centre are fuel injection, mixing and combustion strategies within internal combustion or gas turbine engines, and their research projects include:

  • Gasoline Direct Injection (G-DI) engine research to enhance computational fluid dynamic models sponsored by continuous 13 year programme with Ricardo
  • Fundamental studies of gas turbine engines and novel propulsion systems (such as Pulse Detonation Engines) with QinetiQ
  • Advanced cooling systems for gas turbine engines, in collaboration with Ukrainian Academy of Science
  • Biofuel engine development with Ricardo UK
  • High-efficiency gas-powered engines
  • Motorsport research and development

Complex fluid and thermal systems

Areas covered by the Centre include development of new numerical techniques, development and application of laser diagnostics to fluid flows and modelling of swirling flows and combustion. Their research includes:

  • Development of new numerical techniques for predicting classical droplet deformation in a constant airflow sponsored by EPSRC
  • Over 25 years’ experience of characterising and modelling vortex breakdown, processing vortices breakdown, processing vortices and instabilities in swirling flow typical in power generation
  • Thermodynamic methods for homogeneous, quiescent cloud formation
  • Turbulence fundamentals and fluid interface problems including heat transfer
  • Studies of non-Newtonian flow phenomena
  • Idealised combustors and burners for measuring fundamental combustion parameters
  • Development of novel laser diagnostic techniques for characterising transient multiphase problems in collaboration with Dantec Dynamics

Recognition and awards

The Centre for Research into Energy, Waste and the Environment have gained many awards and recognition for their research:

  • Invited international expert advising the IEC on international standards for classification of explosive areas
  • Von-Karman Institute Lecture Series - keynote address in Multi-phase Hazards in Industrial Environments
  • Member of the UK Explosion Liaison Group Steering Committee
  • Consultant for ExxonMobil on environmental impact of oil well blowouts in the Alaskan oil fields
  • Assisted UK Health and Safety Labs in lessons to be learnt aspects of Lord Cullen’s Inquiry into Ladbroke Grove train disaster
  • Waste Policy Advisor to a number of unitary authorities
  • Regional editor for the International Journal on Solid Waste Technology & Management
  • NATO Advanced Lecture Series on Combustion and Aerothermal Technologies Award, Kiev 2006
  • Hosted the 7th European Conference on Coal Research and its applications (2008)
  • Hosting, on behalf of Combustion Institute, 5th European Combustion Meeting (2011)
  • Member of British Flame Research Council and International Flame Research Foundation
  • Evidence to House of Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee on Energy Policy
  • An 8 partner EU consortium (Biogen) to design and develop a range of biomass gasifiers
  • Member of Steering Committee for EU Biofuels Technology Platform
  • NATO Award for Best International Collaboration in Gas Turbine Field (with Ukraine and Russia) for novel cooling systems in gas turbines
  • Review Committee for International Space Agency
  • Developed the first solar powered car to cross Europe

Laboratories and facilities

The Centre for Research into Energy, Waste and the Environment has a wide range of facilities, including:

  • The Gas Turbine Research Centre (formerly owned by the UK Government defence research agency)
  • Corus Centre of Excellence in Energy and Waste
  • The unique UKAS-accredited Solar Energy Testing Service (SETS)
  • Atmospheric Combustion research laboratory (up to 2 MW research facilities)
  • Large-scale optical spray cell, and large scale shell-in-tube heat exchanger
  • Dedicated optical high-pressure, high-temperature (HP-HT) spray rig
  • Sub-zero adaptation of HP-HT spray rig for cold-start biofuel research
  • Broad range of laser diagnostic techniques for non-intrusive measurement of spray dynamics
  • Gas Turbine Research Centre (GTRC) rigs and facilities. e.g. aero-propulsion
  • A range of fundamental swirl and vortex generation rigs
  • Computer modelling capability for in-house and commercial codes
  • Optical cloud chambers and combustors