In late Autumn of this year, academics from across the White Rose Universities will once again visit China to discuss the development of Energy Recovery and Storage collaborative research projects with their Chinese colleagues. These visits follow on from two interactive workshops in Beijing and Nanjing in March 2013, where our team of 8 UK academics from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield, York, and also the University of Hull as part of the Centre for Low Carbon Futures, shared their expertise in 3 key areas:
1) Utilisation of Waste Heat
2) Energy from Biomass
3) Energy Storage.

Organised by White Rose, the workshops were attended by a range of Chinese universities and companies and the thematic approach allowed both specialism and cross-collaborative discussion to generate a range of opportunities for future research and development projects between China and the UK.

On returning to the UK, work was done on creating an overall framework for The Next Generation Energy Network Using Advanced Conversion and Management Technologies with specialist themes to be developed and refined into projects during the forthcoming visits. The projects to be discussed are:

Advanced Hydrogen Generation Technology through the Gasification of Biomass
Hydrogen is a clean energy which can be used in various applications (eg fuel cell) and so the production of hydrogen from renewable resources (eg Biomass) will be important as a futuresustainable and clean energy source. However, currently there are many problems preventing the use of biomass as a feedstock for hydrogen generation.

We plan to integrate the known technologies of torrefaction and gasification with the aim of demonstrating a complete operational system for converting biomass into hydrogen with zero by-product in both in China and Europe. The first part of the project will be torrefaction comparing conventional and microwave generated chars and addressing some of the major issues associated with its production. The second unit operation is the gasification process whereby biochar will be converted to gas. We anticipate the project will then iterate between gasification and torrefaction to produce optimum bio-char for the gasification process, in turn maximising hydrogen yields.

District Energy Supply and Management based on Tri-Generation and Storage Technologies
District energy systems produce electrical power, hot water or cooling power at a central energy centre. Energy enters the site in the form of heated water and chilled water/air, negating the need for fuel and refrigerants to be used on-site. The improved energy efficiency and ability to use low carbon forms of energy generation mean that district energy can provide an environmentally friendly energy solution. Meanwhile with the share of renewable energy increased drastically over present levels, the existing energy infrastructure is hampered by the fluctuating timing of the energy supply. As a result, smart district energy management systems and energy storage are essential to meet this challenge and balance these conflicts. This project proposes the use of an ‘industrial park’ as a case study, the investigation of key energy storage technologies and system scale simulation before moving on to on-site integration and demonstration to show how these technologies can operate as a mini ‘smart grid’.

Supercritical Steam Storage for Heat and Power Co-generation
This research theme addresses high grade Energy Storage by means of supercritical steam stored in an innovative variable volume steam accumulator operating at higher pressures and temperatures than previously achieved. The project aims to achieve an increase in steam accumulator utilisation by a better than threefold increase in the efficiency of converting this energy to power. It will achieve optimum design efficiency of the associated steam turbine by maintaining maximum steam pressure and temperature via decreasing volume operation during the accumulator discharge cycle. This system complements the next generation of local low carbon combined heat and power network units embedded in the urban environment, by flattening the daily fluctuations in electrical power requirements. It is also complementary to the storage of low temperature district heat in latent heat augmented (phase change) hot water storage tanks.

Please download the summary report, Energy Recovery and Storage: A New Approach for the UK and China White Rose Summary Report, UK CHINA Energy Storage

We would like to express our thanks to the Science and Innovation Team at the British Consulate General in Shanghai for their support with this project. And thanks also to the Joint Institutes for Process Engineering at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Nanjing University of Science and Technology for their generous hosting of the workshops in March. And finally, also to the academics from both the UK and China who participated so knowledgeably and enthusiastically during the workshops.

For further information, please contact Claire Pickerden, White Rose Project Development Manager on c.pickerden@whiterose.ac.uk