The research infrastructure is housed within the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage (BCES) at the University of Birmingham. The focus of the assets and equipments is the formulation and characterization of new materials for thermal and thermochemical energy conversion and storage, specifically on composite phase change materials (cPCM), composite thermochemical materials (cTCM) and hybridization of cPCM and cTCM, covering a temperature range from extremely low temperature of -196oC up to very high temperatures of +1500oC. The state-of-the-art facilities include a variety of equipment – XRT, XRD, Thermal Analysers, Raman Spectrometer, 3D rapid polymer prototyping, High temperature/pressure compression testing, humidity chambers and corrosion testing vacuum furnace.
These facilities are aligned with the vision of the BCES to drive innovation from the laboratory to the market. The integrated infrastructure allow the researchers to -
- Design and optimise of cPCM and cTCM modules and devices for stationary large scale centralized and small scale decentralised applications;
- Design and optimisation of cPCM and cTCM modules and devices for mobile applications including electrical vehicles, rail freight and passenger trains and cold chain applications;
- Development of manufacturing technologies for the cPCM and cTCM modules and devices;
- Integration and optimisation of the cPCM and cTCM based devices for a variety of applications;
- Cryogenic energy storage including large-scale liquid air energy storage technology for transmission/distribution side applications, and small-scale liquid air combined heating, cooling and power technology for user side applications;
- Thermal, thermochemical and cryogenic based energy conversion and storage technologies for offshore renewable transmission and distribution applications;
- Multiscale modelling and optimization of thermal and thermochemical energy conversion and storage systems.
- The impact from the research is important to help reach the UK Government’s 2050 Net Zero ambition. This impact from the research is already shaping the way energy is stored and used across the globe, from the UK to China. One example has been a UK-China collaborative project which has led to the first commercial, large scale, composite Phase Change Material demonstration plant for curtailed wind power. This research project took wind power that would otherwise have been wasted, and converted it into heat that can be stored in materials and then used for space heating on a commercial scale.