Inaugural Manchester Energy PhD Conference 2017
The first Manchester Energy PhD Conference took place last Friday (3 February) at The University of Manchester.
‘Energy Poverty and Vulnerability: A Global Perspective’ challenges dominant theorisations of energy poverty’s underlying causes, and provides fresh and innovative evidence of how vulnerability is constructed through social, economic, cultural and political contexts. The book takes a global perspective, drawing together original empirical research conducted in 12 different countries, including places rarely previously studied from an energy poverty perspective – such as China, South Africa, and Kenya.
Professor Gordon Walker, of Lancaster University, says of the book:
“It is rare to find discussions of energy poverty that take a global perspective and recognise it as produced in relation to history, culture, infrastructure, energy and welfare politics, and much else. This collection has a fantastic set of chapters, examining energy poverty in a diversity of contexts, as well as critiquing existing analytical frameworks.”
‘Energy Poverty and Vulnerability: A Global Perspective’ is co-edited by Dr Neil Simcock, Dr Saska Petrova, Prof Stefan Bouzarovski (all at The University of Manchester) and Dr Harriet Thomson (University of Birmingham and Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Manchester). The book benefited from the research environment provided by the Collaboratory for Urban Resilience and Energy within the Manchester Urban Institute.
The book is available online
You can also find out more about the EU Energy Poverty Observatory, which is based at The University of Manchester, at www.energypoverty.eu.
Energy is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons
The University of Manchester's first undergraduate conference, RETHINK : Exploring the Challenges of Global Decarbonisation, will bring together speakers from respected organisations in the energy sector including National Grid UK, the Dalton Nuclear Institute and Tyndall Manchester, to discuss the future of energy in the UK and globally.
As this is a subsidised event tickets are only £5 and include entry to the conference, welcome beverages and lunch. Tickets can be purchased via this link:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rethinkmees/
Conference website: https://uomees.weebly.com/rethinkenergy.html
Manchester's Mayor, Andy Burnham, has called for a Green Summit for 21st March 2018 to discuss and develop Greater Manchester's ambition to become the greenest city in Europe by achieving carbon neutrality as soon as possible. The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) is inviting contributions from all members of Greater Manchester's residents and workforce to provide ideas, suggestions, information and guidance regarding possible pathways to achieve this. In response to this request for input researchers from The University of Manchester, who are pursuing PhDs related to energy, are holding a 'listening / information' fringe event.
The event, which will be attended by GMCA, is an opportunity for PhD researchers to directly participate in the Mayoral debate. The event will start with a structured workshop using the Ketso tool to enable all attendees to contribute information relating to their areas of research / experience. This will be followed by discussions and a debate to consider the proposals generated during the workshop. The suggestions / outputs from the event will be presented to GMCA to inform & influence the Green Summit.
Any PhD researcher wishing to participate in the event should register via this link
Energy poverty is the inability to secure adequate levels of energy services (which include heating, cooling, lighting and information technology), and is estimated to affect more than 50 million people in the European Union.
The EU Energy Poverty Observatory, funded by the European Commission and chaired by Professor Stefan Bouzarovski from The University of Manchester, is a vast effort involving 13 organisations including universities, advocacy groups, think tanks, and the business sector. Dr Harriet Thomson, a Honorary Reearch Fellow at The University of Manchester, is the Observatory’s Project Manager.
Through them, about 100 internationally-renowned experts will collect and publish Europe-wide energy poverty data while serving as the focal point of an emergent network of policy-makers, research scientists, advocacy groups and community activists interested in the issue.
The observatory is geared at improving the transparency of information and policy by bringing together the disparate sources of data and knowledge that exist in varying degrees across the whole of the EU. It also provides a user-friendly and open-access resource that promotes public engagement as well as informed decision making by local, national and EU-level decision makers.It will aim to improve energy poverty detection, measurement and reporting by creating a public forum for the exchange of knowledge on the issue.
The observatory benefits from the research environment provided by the Collaboratory for Urban Resilience and Energy within the Manchester Urban Institute.
“The EU energy poverty observatory will revolutionise government policy and academic scholarship on energy justice and equity across the world. For the first time in history, it will render a condition that affects millions of Europeans visible and measurable,” said Professor Stefan Bouzarovski.
"Thanks to the observatory, the University of Manchester is now at the vanguard of a European and global effort to understand how changing energy prices and efforts to combat climate change – as well as climate change itself – affect vulnerable people".Professor Stefan Bouzarovski
Find out more about the observatory at www.energypoverty.eu.
Energy is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons
The new findings demonstrated an increase in the rate at which the material conducts protons when it is simply illuminated with sunlight. The ‘photo-proton’ effect, as it has been dubbed, could be exploited to design devices able to directly harvest solar energy to produce hydrogen gas, a promising green fuel. It might also be of interest for other applications, such as light-induced water splitting, photo-catalysis and for making new types of highly efficient photodetectors.
Researchers recently found that it is also permeable to thermal protons (the nuclei of hydrogen atoms), which means that it might be employed as a proton-conducting membrane in various technology applications.
To find out how light affects the behaviour of protons permeating through the carbon sheet, a team led by Dr Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo and Professor Sir Andre Geim fabricated pristine graphene membranes and decorated them on one side with platinum nanoparticles. The Manchester scientists were surprised to find that the proton conductivity of these membranes was enhanced 10 times when they were illuminated with sunlight.
Dr Lozada-Hidalgo said: “By far the most interesting application is producing hydrogen in an artificial photosynthetic system based on these membranes.”
Prof Geim is also optimistic: “This is essentially a new experimental system in which protons, electrons and photons are all packed together in an atomically thin volume. I am sure that there is a lot of new physics to be unearthed, and new applications will follow.”
Scientists around the world are busy looking into how to directly use solar energy to produce renewable fuels (such as hydrogen) by mimicking photosynthesis in plants. These man-made ‘leaves’ will require membranes with very sophisticated properties – including mixed proton-electron conductivity, permeability to gases, mechanical robustness and optical transparency.
Currently, researchers use a mixture of proton and electron-conducting polymers to make such structures, but these require some important trade-offs that could be avoided by using graphene.
Using electrical measurements and mass spectrometry, the researchers say that they measured a photoresponsivity of around 104 A/W, which translates into around 5000 hydrogen molecules being formed in response to every solar photon (light particle) incident on the membrane. This is a huge number if compared with the existing photovoltaic devices where many thousands of photons are needed to produce just a single hydrogen molecule.
“We knew that graphene absorbs light of all frequencies and that it is also permeable to protons, but there was no reason for us to expect that the photons absorbed by the material could enhance the permeation rate of protons through it.” says Lozada-Hidalgo.
“The result is even more surprising when we realised that the membrane was many orders of magnitude more sensitive to light than devices that are specifically designed to be light-sensitive. Examples of such devices include commercial photodiodes or those made from novel 2D materials.”
Photodetectors typically harvest light to produce just electricity but graphene membranes produce both electricity and, as a by-product, hydrogen. The speed at which they respond to light in the microsecond range is faster than most commercial photodiodes.
The authors of this research acknowledge support from the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, EPSRC (EP/ N010345/1), the European Research Council ARTIMATTER project (ERC-2012-ADG) and from Graphene Flagship. Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo acknowledges a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.
Energy is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons - examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons
The Supergen Bioenergy hub will bring together a network of accademic, industrial and policy stake holders to address the technical and engineering barriers to sustainable bioenergy systems.
The aim is to investigate new approaches to bioenergy technologies whilst addressing challenges to maximise the environmental benefits of sustainable bioenergy. This announcement will lead to the development of an integrated, multi-disciplinary proposal for bioenergy research in the UK.
This role is one of three announced by EPSRC with the others being the leaders for the Supergen programme for Energy Networks and for Offshore Renewable Energy.
The Supergen Programme, established in 2001, has supported seven Supergen hubs and aims to deliver co-ordinated research in key areas including bioenergy, solar technology, energy networks, energy storage, fuel cells and others.
Bioenergy is one of the strands within our Energy Research Beacon.
As electricity demand increases and more electricity is generated from low carbon sources (such as nuclear, wind, solar and marine), the UK’s transmission system requires change. Estimates suggest it may need to carry a peak power four times higher in the future than that carried today, and the electricity that flows through it will become more intermittent as wind and solar power are subject to variable weather conditions.
Our new laboratory equipment will enable academics to test power system components used on the transmission system, such as transformers and overhead line insulators. It will also develop an improved electricity system that is both cost-effective and has minimal impact on the environment (whether this be measured in terms of visual impact, noise, ability to recycle at end-of-life or a whole range of other factors).
The new investment will provide the capability for our researchers to generate high voltages and currents - allowing them to test equipment in polluted conditions - and a large test chamber, which will enable work in temperature ranges from -30 to 80oC.
Researchers will be able to apply over 800,000 volts continuously to objects, and at times up to 1.6 million volts to simulate the impact of lightning, and test equipment when water is sprayed on to surfaces in a way that replicates rainfall. When the equipment moves to the new MECD site, the specialist laboratory will operate 'quietly' and allow researchers to measure extremely small electromagnetic signals associated with failures in insulation systems.
As Manchester hosts complementary technology and innovation centres, we are in a prime position to realise the benefits that our interdisciplinary research brings. There are many opportunities associated with advanced materials that allow us to examine new ways to manufacture and operate transformers, overhead lines, cables and circuit breakers. Together with other facilities, including those of the Henry Royce Institute and the University’s National Graphene Institute, we will have the capability to translate underpinning materials science to the scale of full-size transmission system equipment.
The new university facilities will support academics as they continue to develop and deliver new technologies, such as transformers that use greener and safer insulating oils and overhead lines that can operate at reduced height and with quieter conductors. Our experts will also work closely with National Grid, which is developing a substation test environment in North Wales where assets associated with electricity networks can be tested off-grid, 24 hours, seven days a week.
Elizabeth Wildman, a PhD student in the research group led by Professor Steve Liddle based at The University of Manchester, has reported the first examples of thorium with multiple bonds to arsenic to exist under ambient conditions on multi-gram scales where before they had only been prepared on very small scales at temperatures approaching that of interstellar space (3-10 Kelvin). The finding is to be published in the leading journal Nature Communications.
“Nuclear power could potentially produce far less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, but the long-lived waste it produces is radioactive and needs to be handled appropriately,” said Elizabeth Wildman, from Manchester’s School of Chemistry.
“In order to find ways of separating, recycling and reducing the volume of nuclear waste, research has focussed on developing our understanding of how elements like thorium and uranium interact with elements from around the periodic table to potentially help improve nuclear waste clean-up.”
In order to find ways of separating, recycling and reducing the volume of nuclear waste, research has focussed on developing our understanding of how elements like thorium and uranium interact with elements from around the periodic table to potentially help improve nuclear waste clean-up.
Professor Liddle, Head of Inorganic Chemistry and Co-Director of the Centre for Radiochemistry Research at The University of Manchester, added: “We need to reduce the volume of nuclear waste in order to make it easier to handle and process it to remove benign elements or separate the high level from low level waste.”
This research follows up on previous research published on uranium-phosphorus, uranium-arsenic, and thorium-phosphorus chemistry. This latest study looked at how the soft element arsenic interacts with thorium, because arsenic could, in principle, be used in organic molecules that bond to metal atoms and improve extraction processes.
“There is currently significant interest in using organic molecules to extract, selectively, metal ions from the ‘soup’ of nuclear waste and fish out the more radioactive and toxic ones and leave the rest behind,” he added.
“This requires an understanding of chemical bonding and how the organic extractants bind to different metals. We can then exploit this knowledge to achieve separation by having them selectively bind to one type of metal and remove it from the soup.
“There is mounting evidence that the molecules that are best at this contain soft donor atoms to the metals. Thus, we need to understand soft donor-to-metal binding better.
“Arsenic is a soft donor, so we have prepared model complexes with it to understand the nature of the bonding. Until now, complexes exhibiting multiple bonds between thorium and arsenic were limited to spectroscopic experiments carried out at temperatures close to that of interstellar space (3-10 Kelvin) where only a few molecules were made at a time.
“Here, we have made molecules in multi-gram quantities and they are stable under ambient conditions enabling us to study them more straightforwardly. We might be able to use this new knowledge and understanding in a real system in the future.”
The research was carried out in the School of Chemistry in a joint project between the universities of Manchester and Regensburg and was funded and supported by the Royal Society, European Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and COST.
Citation: “Triamidoamine Thorium-Arsenic Complexes with Parent Arsenide, Arsinidiide and Arsenido Structural Motifs” E. P. Wildman, G. Balázs, A. J. Wooles, M. Scheer, and S. T. Liddle, Nat. Comm., 2017, 8, 14769.
The remote inspection and asset management of offshore wind farms and their connection to the shore is an industry which will be worth up to £2 billion annually by 2025 in the UK alone.
Eighty to ninety per cent of the cost of offshore operation and maintenance according to the Crown Estate is generated by the need to get site access – in essence get engineers and technicians to remote sites to evaluate a problem and decide what action to undertake.
Such inspection takes place in a remote and hazardous environment and requires highly trained personnel of which there is likely to be a shortage in coming years.
The £5m project will investigate the use of advanced sensing, robotics, virtual reality models and artificial intelligence to reduce maintenance cost and effort. Predictive and diagnostic techniques will allow problems to be picked up early, when easy and inexpensive maintenance will allow problems to be readily fixed. Robots and advanced sensors will be used to minimise the need for human intervention in the hazardous offshore environment.
The UK has world-leading expertise in the technologies and science in this area, but they have often operated separately. The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have supported this project to bring them together for the first time to make a real step change in this industry.
Professor Mike Barnes
The use of robots will allow operation in difficult or hazardous environments: sub-sea to inspect cables, in high-voltage environments to inspect high voltage equipment and around the wind turbines to check their mechanical structures. The latest in advanced sensors will be used, for example sonar techniques to assess sub-sea cable wear and degradation in situ. This, along with state-of-the-art system modelling and artificial intelligence, will be used to best assess the data produced.
The University of Manchester’s Professor Mike Barnes, who is leading the three-year project, said: “The UK has world-leading expertise in the technologies and science in this area, but they have often operated separately. The UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council have supported this project to bring them together for the first time to make a real step change in this industry.”
The project is a collaboration between the universities of Manchester, Durham, Warwick, Cranfield, Heriot-Watt and a consortium of companies from the offshore industry. Techniques will be trialled in an offshore test site in Scotland and a project demonstration will be given at Salford Quays, Manchester.
Coordinated by Dr Harriet Thomson and Professor Stefan Bouzarovski from the University of Manchester, the European Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV) aims to engender transformational change in knowledge about the extent of energy poverty in Europe, as well as innovative policies and practices to address it.
This cutting edge project, funded by the European Commission, involves an Advisory Board of over 50 leading stakeholders from across Europe. This includes Theresa Griffin MEP, chair of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats working group on energy poverty, and Adrian Joyce, Secretary General of EuroACE and Campaign Director of Renovate Europe.
Recognition of energy poverty is growing across Europe, and the issue has been identified as a policy priority in the European Commission’s flagship Clean Energy package announced on 30th November 2016. Europe-wide energy poverty affects over 50 million households. People are battling to pay their bills on time, combat damp and mould in their home, and achieve adequate levels of energy services in their home - such as heating, cooling, and lighting.
There’s a growing integration of energy poverty analysis and policy in European Commission activities – so it’s now more important than ever to build a specialist network of stakeholders working on energy poverty in Europe.
Dr Harriet Thomson
It’s widely agreed that energy poverty across Europe is due to high energy prices, low household incomes, inefficient buildings and appliances, and specific household energy needs. Living in energy poverty is linked to ill health – with respiratory and cardiac illnesses, and mental health, exacerbated due to low temperatures and stress associated with unaffordable energy bills.
In fact energy poverty has an indirect effect on many policy areas - including health, environment and productivity. So addressing it would bring multiple benefits, including less money spent by governments on health, reduced air pollution, better comfort and wellbeing, improved household budgets and increased economic activity.
Harriet continued: “The EU Observatory will not only help people to access information on the extent of energy poverty across European Member States – it will also make available information on measures to combat it. There will be comprehensive, innovative and evidence-based practice and policy frameworks.”
According to Professor Stefan Bouzarovski, who chairs the Observatory’s Steering Committee: “The Observatory is closely linked with a range of existing research activities at the University of Manchester, particularly the Collaboratory for Urban Resilience and Energy within the Manchester Urban Institute, as well as Manchester Energy. It builds on the University’s path-breaking scientific and policy engagement with wider European and global challenges around questions of social inequality and environmental sustainability.”
The EU Observatory, which launches in December 2017, will be a user friendly and open access resource bringing together data from across Europe. As well as this it will enable networking and joint working; its member organisations will share information and resources, and organise outreach work – connecting and building on good practice schemes tackling energy poverty.
The consortium members are: The University of Manchester, Ecofys, Intrasoft International, The European Policy Centre, National Energy Action, Wuppertal Institute, Asociación de Ciencias Ambientales, Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving, ECODES, Energy Action, The EnAct project, the EU Fuel Poverty Network, and Housing Europe.
Harriet added: “EPOV will be of great benefit to many people from international bodies such as the UN, scientists, think-tanks, and national and supranational decision makers, to social and health care workers, advocacy groups and housing providers.”
Energy and addressing global inequalities
Energy and Addressing Global Inequalities are among The University of Manchester’s research beacons- examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons
The world is home to a large number of sites that are contaminated with radioactive waste and require clean-up and analysis. Currently, the options to map and assess these sites are extremely expensive and time-consuming – involving either removing samples for lab analysis or sending in remote sensors which only give part of the necessary picture.
The team, led by The University of Manchester, has been awarded a £1.6 million grant by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to form a group that will develop a new robotic system with the ability to use a wider range of sensors than ever before to map nuclear sites.
Featuring optical spectroscopic techniques, advanced radiation detection methods and modern sensor technologies on remotely-operated vehicle platforms, each sensing technology will provide a piece of the ‘total characterisation’ jigsaw, together with 3D mapping of the material within the environment.
It will feature advanced robotics and control technologies, such as those used in NASA’s Curiosity Rover, to form the flexible platform necessary for trials in nuclear environments ranging from Sellafield in the UK, to Fukushima in Japan.
Principal Investigator, Dr Phil Martin from The University of Manchester's School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, said: "This is an exciting project bringing together a multi-disciplinary team of scientists and engineers to develop a really innovative system for remote characterisation of a range of nuclear environments which should lead to big improvements in the decommissioning process."
The Consortium, known as TORONE (TOtal characterisation by Remote Observation in Nuclear Environments), is also made up of scientists from Lancaster and Aston Universities, the National Nuclear Laboratory and the UK Atomic Energy Authority. The project is for three years’ duration and starts on 1st March 2017.
The TORONE group will be working with Sellafield, and Sellafield Ltd Robotics, and Autonomous Systems Lead Dr Paul Mort said: “Characterisation of materials is of critical importance on the Sellafield site. Improved understanding of what materials are and where they are in our facilities offers considerable benefits when we are planning and carrying out decommissioning activities.
“A technology that is cheap and able to be remotely deployed simply and quickly to inspect materials in-situ will make it safer for humans and give an opportunity to get better data to make more informed decisions. This technology would have far reaching applications on site and has the potential to improve productivity, thereby reducing decommissioning timescales and costs.”
Professor Francis Livens, Director of The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, said: “As we decommission nuclear facilities around the world, it has become very clear that we have to be smarter, because that allows us to be quicker, cheaper and safer. New ideas, such as these, are vital if we are to do this.”
Lancaster University Co-Investigator Professor Malcolm Joyce said: “This is an exciting opportunity to integrate the state-of-the-art in radiation detection and robotics.”
As we decommission nuclear facilities around the world, it has become very clear that we have to be smarter, because that allows us to be quicker, cheaper and safer. New ideas, such as these, are vital if we are to do this.
Professor Francis Livens
The news follows another recent announcement that the University of Manchester is to lead a consortium to build the next generation of robots that are more durable and perceptive for use in nuclear sites.
TORONE is led by UoM Principal Investigator Dr Philip Martin (School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Sciences). Co-Investigators at UoM comprise Prof. Barry Lennox (School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering) and Prof Nick Smith (Royal Society Industry Fellow, Schools of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, seconded from NNL); Lancaster University Co-Investigator Prof. Malcolm Joyce (School of Engineering) and Aston University Co-Investigator Dr Michael Aspinall (School of Life and Health Sciences).
Funding of £1.6 million is from the EPSRC through its Remote Sensing in Extreme Environments call.
The cost of cleaning up the UK’s existing nuclear facilities is estimated to be between £95 billion and £219 billion over the next 120 years or so. The harsh conditions within these facilities means that human access is highly restricted and much of the work will need to be completed by robots.
Present robotics technology is simply not capable of completing many of the tasks that will be required. Whilst robotic systems have proven to be of great benefit at Fukushima Daiichi NPP, their limitations, which include relatively straightforward tasks such as turning valves, navigating staircases and moving over rough terrain, have also been highlighted.
The new group comprising Manchester, the University of Birmingham, University of the West of England (UWE) and industrial partners Sellafield Ltd, EDF, UKAEA and NuGen has been funded with £4.6m from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
This programme of work will enable us to fundamentally improve RAS capabilities, allowing technologies to be reliably deployed into harsh environments, keeping humans away from the dangers of radiation
Professor Barry Lennox
It will develop robots which have improved sensing, communications and processing power. They will also develop systems that are able to address issues around grasping and manipulation, computer vision and perception. Importantly, the robots will be autonomous – able to operate without direct supervision by humans.
The University of Manchester’s Professor Barry Lennox, who is leading this project, said: “This programme of work will enable us to fundamentally improve RAS capabilities, allowing technologies to be reliably deployed into harsh environments, keeping humans away from the dangers of radiation.”
Within the next five years, the researchers will produce prototype robots, which will then be trialled in both active and inactive environments. It is anticipated that these trials will include using robotic manipulators to autonomously sort and segregate waste materials and to use multiple robots, working collaboratively, to characterise facilities that may not have been accessed for 40 years or more.
The technology will not only have potential for improving robots used at nuclear sites, but also in other hostile environments such as space, sub-sea, and mining, and in situations such as bomb-disposal and healthcare, which are dangerous or difficult for humans.
The University of Manchester has already developed small submersible and ground-based vehicles that can be deployed to survey nuclear facilities that will be used in this project, allied with the skills and knowledge of the other partners.
Professor Lennox added: “If we are to be realistic about clearing up contaminated sites, then we have to invest in this type of technology. These environments are some of the most extreme that exist, so the benefits of developing this technology can also apply to a wide range of other scenarios.”
Watch Alice Larkin, Professor of Climate Science & Energy Policy in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering and Tyndall Manchester, present a TED talk about the ways climate change will affect all our futures unless we make radical changes to our behavior.
Digital technology is responsible for substantial environmental impacts globally. It has roughly the same carbon footprint as aviation, and is one of the most widespread sources of hazardous substances in waste streams. Furthermore, its emissions are growing currently. However, it has also been argued that digital technology can play a key role in the transition to a low carbon society. Progressive IT companies are making significant efforts to reduce the environmental impact of their activities, and searching for new ways of supporting lower impact ways of living.
In this talk, Chris will look at the big picture and arguments from both sides. He will also present more detail on how to understand and mitigate the environmental impacts of digital services such as websites, Google search, Facebook, YouTube or BBC iPlayer. Where in the system are the ‘hotspots’ and what can we do to tackle them? What are the longer term trends in such patterns? What can service designers - both architectural and interaction designers - do to mitigate these effects?
Chris Preist is Professor in Sustainability and Computer Systems at the University of Bristol. He leads a team of researchers who combine the disciplines of Industrial Ecology and Computer Science.
House of Commons, Westminster, London
Manchester Energy and Policy@Manchester will launch their new publication ‘On Energy’, in the Churchill Room of the House of Commons on Wednesday 8 November.
The publication draws on expertise from across The University of Manchester and external collaborators to provide thought leadership and expert analysis on issues such as climate change, fuel poverty, the economic viability of nuclear power and multi-energy systems. Authors include Lord Jim O’Neill, Prof Alice Larkin, Prof Patricia Thornley and Prof Francis Livens.
This invitation only event will be a chance to network with and hear from some of the leading thinkers in energy policy, find out more about the energy research at The University of Manchester, and get a limited edition printed version of our new publication.
The development of unconventional fossil fuels using hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques raises issues of environmental and public health risks to water management, climate change, traffic congestions, air, noise and light pollution, and seismic activity. It also has the potential to create technological stigmatisation, identity disruption and social decline in the communities it affects.
Such impacts are unevenly distributed between host communities, land-owners, and fracking developers; alongside uneven decision-making powers and economic benefits. This paper discusses the distributive and procedural justice dimensions of fracking in the UK. I examine the discourses of fracking threat and opportunity, recent developments relating to regulatory systems and institutional arrangements, changes to powers of local authorities and the adequacy of industry-led community compensation and consultation processes with recommendations for future policy directions.
Small-scale scientific experiments require high-purity, low activity plutonium metal that is formed into components with nanoscale surface finishes and micron-scale surface features. A process has been developed for winning micro-ingots (~300 mg) of alpha-phase Pu metal from plutonium oxide. This process involves chemical removal of Am-241, followed by a fluorination process. The metal is formed via a metallothermic reaction in an induction furnace. The nickel contamination entered the process during the fluorination step, which involves high-temperature HF gas in nickel tubes. Kerri will describe efforts to minimize nickel contamination, resulting in recent batches of this Pu metal that show significantly decreased impurity concentrations. She will also give an overview of the Materials Science Division at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, highlighting their capabilities for processing, handling and characterising small-scale actinide samples.
During this talk, Maxine will present a helicopter view of the fascinating body of international convention and policy governing our civil nuclear power plants, developed against a backdrop of safety, security and safeguarding considerations towards keeping the world safe from any harmful effects of nuclear proliferation.
Vice President of UK Women in Nuclear, Maxine Symington is a nuclear law specialist and leading nuclear construction lawyer working as Nuclear Practice Director for International Law Firm Gowling WLG. She has 20 years of experience in the energy industry advising key participants on new-build and decommissioning projects as well as helping clients navigate through the regulatory, contractual and commercial challenges of contracting in the nuclear sector.
Maxine also specialises in a variety of nuclear law issues including nuclear liability risk and indemnities, nuclear export/import control, back-end liabilities and safety resilience issues and regularly speaks at international nuclear events.
We have taken our energy supply for granted in the past. A step change is required to understand the
challenges we are facing and to achieve the potentials of energy infrastructure which present a huge
opportunity not only for unlocking growth but also in achieving environmental and social goals.
This talk will first set the context of why the low carbon heat infrastructure is needed, followed by the
initiatives and policies that the government has currently put in place. Successful delivery of low
carbon infrastructure needs strong leadership from local authorities and private and public
partnership. Business models can be developed to suit individual cities and towns, embracing private
sector investment with local authority leadership. This talk will also describe available technologies
and use a number of case studies (which are in varying stages of development) to explain the
rationale for selection of appropriate technologies, business model and the lessons learnt.
Dr. Mei Ren, BuroHappold, is Royal Academy Visiting Professor in Environmental Sustainability at The
University of Manchester. She is a Director in BuroHappold, with 20 years of exprience in green
building design and energy consulting ranging from private developments to public sector policy
studies. She is passionate about embedding sustainability in every element of deign and strategy. In
2014, Dr. Ren was awarded NCE/ACE Sustainability Champion Consultant of the Year.
In the seminar, I argue that a more rounded understanding of how to respond effectively to the challenges posed by human-made climate change may be obtained by drawing on an institutional perspective. In particular I advance an approach which combines neo-institutional theory and critical discourse analysis in a complementary way. Such a discourse-institutional view has a number of benefits: (1) institutionally, it moves analysis beyond the usual if understandable focus on the activities and policies of government; (2) due attention is given to a view of institutions as stable but potentially changeable norms, professional standards, culture, and ingrained habit; (3) the language basis of institutions is duly recognized; and (4) connections among language in text, and in discursive and social practice are acknowledged, as are their role in processes of (non- or de-) institutionalization. The presentation summarizes the suggested approach, and illustrates it with reference to the example of the diffusion of renewable energy technologies.
Audley Genus, PhD, is YTL Professor of Innovation and Technology Management at Kingston University. He researches innovation, sustainability and technology policy, publishing in journals such as Research Policy, and Technological Forecasting and Social Change. He is the editor of the book ‘Sustainable Consumption, Design and Innovation’, published by Springer (2016).
This Defra report sets out National Grid’s progress in adapting to the current and future predicted effects of climate change and includes findings from the Resilient Energy Networks for Great Britain (RESNET) research project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC).
National Grid participated in the RESNET programme to improve awareness of the longer-term risks of the impact of climate-related changes to the reliability of the UK’s electricity system and develop tools for quantifying the value of adaptations that would enhance the grid’s resilience.
The RESNET consortium’s energy scenarios considered population and industrial growth, climate change legislation, changing energy demands and the incorporation of renewable generation into the National Grid in order to plan a more resilient network to withstand tomorrow’s harsher climate conditions.
“The National Grid is facing changes from all angles”, said Prof Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at The University of Manchester, “There are so many factors and uncertainties to take into account.” He illustrates his point with an example of the north of England: “We may see an industrial renaissance in the north that will require a much greater supply of electricity. In order to advise where, when and how energy companies should invest we need to link predictions of industrial growth with weather forecasts and patterns of energy use.”
The need to adapt for anticipated climate changes, including hotter and drier summers, warmer and wetter winters and increasingly extreme weather events, is especially relevant where infrastructure is above ground and exposed to the elements. Expected increases in ambient temperatures over the rest of the century will impact on National Grid’s asset ratings which are temperature dependent. Ratings given to assets in National Grid’s report covered overhead power lines, underground cables and the impact of climate change on transformers.
Energy is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons. Our five research beacons - addressing global inequalities, advanced materials, cancer, energy and industrial biotechnology – are exemplars of interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are distinctive to our University, making pioneering discoveries and improving the lives of people around the world. Researchers in our beacon areas are at the forefront of the search for innovative solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the planet today. www.manchester.ac.uk/research/beacons
Prof Barry Lennox's Acoustek system has won a presitigious award at the UK Energy Innovation Awards 2016, held at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate on Thursday April 28th
Acoustek was first used as a tool for detecting blockages in high pressure natural gas pipelines. Working with Circor the technology is now used routinely in the oil & gas industry to detect and locate blockages at distances of over 10 km. More recently, the technology has been adapted so that it can be applied to locate blockages and other features in gas distribution pipeline networks.
Creator Barry Lennox commented: “The work with the gas distribution operators has proven to be highly successful, with a commercial product expected to be available within the next year or so.”
The technology is set to revolutionise the market as the tool designed for the gas distribution market can quickly and accurately locate features at distances of more than 300m. This reduces the number of excavations and ensures a more rapid resumption of service to customers.
Cameron Rennie, Senior Strategy Advisor at BP Group Technology, delivered the third ICAM webinar of 2016 on the global energy challenge. Increasingly, we recognise that we live in an interconnected world. Solving a challenge in one domain can have implications in another area. This applies to the production and use of energy.
Cameron Rennie discussed how the production and use of energy is linked to availability of many natural resources. He described examples of dependencies on availability of water, land and specific minerals.
The challenge is to create understanding, to navigate the complex interdependencies – so decision makers encourage policy that prevents resource constraints, even as the climate changes and economies expand and urbanise.
You can read the full article here.
Professor Mark O'Malley (University College Dublin) will deliver a seminar entitled 'Energy System Integration and its Role in Integrating Variable Renewable Energy' at the University on Thursday 29th September.
Mark is the Professor of Electrical Engineering at University College Dublin (UCD) and founding Director of the Electricity Research Centre and Director of the UCD Energy Institute, a multidisciplinary, multi institutional, industry supported research activity. Energy Systems Integration (ESI) is the optimisation of energy systems across these energy vectors and scales. ESI is most valuable at the interfaces where the coupling and interactions are strong and represent a challenge and/or an opportunity. You can find further information on this seminar Seminar Invitation - Mark O'Malley.
The purpose of the workshop is to present the findings of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded WISE PV project, and explore implications. The project brings together teams from the University of Manchester, The University of Sheffield, Loughborough University Oxford Brooks University and Malta College of Arts, Science & Technology.
FInd our more about this event here.
The University of Manchester’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering are exhibiting at this year’s Low Carbon Networks & Innovation (LCNI) conference, taking place in Manchester between 11-13 October at the Manchester Central Convention Complex.
The School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering’s Power and Energy Division will be highlighting their latest research, training opportunities and consultancy projects as well as demonstrating the world-class equipment used by researchers to deliver new innovations.
As well as having the opportunity to speak to University of Manchester experts involved in the latest energy research, visitors to stand A011 will also be able to sign up to free tours of the laboratories on the nearby University campus, travelling by free coach arranged by the event organisers.
For more information, read the full story on the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering’s website.
Come and find out what’s going on at the TreeStation - a social enterprise in arboriculture, wood fuels and timber. Join us for the TreeStation Open Day on 3rd September 2016 (from 11am to 2pm)
At TreeStation, we’re working towards a greener Manchester - our aim is to reduce carbon emissions and ‘make wood work’ in the local community. TreeStation Open Day Flyer to learn more about this event.
The latest newsletter of the North Africa Research Group is now available.
The newsletter contains information about recent studies and publications from the group, as well as forthcoming conference presentations and details of all group members, including PhD stdents.
ShengJi Tee won the CIGRE-UK Next Generation Network Presentation Competition with £1000 travel bursary and free registration to CIGRE Session 2016 to be held in Paris from 21 to 26 Aug 2016.
Mr Tee is a final year PhD student in the Power and Energy Division in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He has been working on ageing assessment of transformer insulation through oil test database analysis, under the supervision of Dr Qiang Liu and Prof Zhongdong Wang. He has published two IEEE journal papers with another IET journal paper under review.
CIGRE Session offers a platform for more than 8500 worldwide senior executives, engineers and experts to share and discuss ideas in the field of power systems. The CIGRE-UK NGN is an organisation for young professional engineers in the power industry to engage with CIGRE’s activities and develop their knowledge, skills and contacts within the industry.
The University of Manchester's EVALUATE group addresses scientific and policy challenges at the interface of energy system transformations, the environment and cities.
A new addition to the EVALUATE project team is Neil Simcock, who is joining as a research associate over the next two years to undertake qualitative research with vulnerable households in the case study areas. In his first blog article, Neil discusses the key themes and aims of this section of EVALUATE.
From the packed house at this Policy@Manchester policy week event comes visual minutes of the debate about how best to power the northern powerhouse (our thanks to Crackerjack Visual Thinking for this graphic).
For panel chair Teresa Chilton, Project Manager for Manchester Energy, "one of this event's biggest successes was in giving a venue where early career researchers could articulate their thoughts." This infographic sums up lots of the key points raised by those in attendance.
High school student Alexander Lewis has won a special energy prize sponsored by The University of Manchester, after showcasing ground-breaking research on new home insulation technology.
Alexander, from Saffron Walden County High School, has been awarded the ‘Global Challenges, Manchester Solutions: Energy Prize’, a special category in the National Science & Engineering Competition.
Read the fully story here.
Prof Patricia Thornley, Director, SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, has won the prestigious Elsevier Atlas Award for her paper, “Maximizing the greenhouse gas reductions from biomass: The role of life cycle assessment". Each month a single Atlas article is selected from published research from across Elsevier’s 1,800 journals by an external advisory board.
As a major contribution to the City of Science programme, The University of Manchester is presenting a #scienceX extravaganza, taking scientists, engineers and experiments to intu Trafford Centre, one of Europe's largest shopping and leisure complexes and the Chill Factore, the UK's longest indoor ski slope. These are ideal places for us to meet people who would never usually visit the University campus and facilities, to excite them about science and engineering, and get them involved in experiments and other activities.
Our own Daniele Atkinson has a featured commentary on the Huffington Post this week. You can read Daniele's full article here.
For more information about the event, please visit the sciencex website, www.manchester.ac.uk/scienceX
Thursday 21st April (room C1, George Begg Building, Sackville Street) at 4.00pm
Drawing on the experiences of a novel collaborative project between sociologists and computer scientists, this paper identifies a set of challenges for fieldwork that are generated by this ‘wild interdisciplinarity’. Public Access Wi-Fi Service(PAWS) was a project funded by an 'in-the-wild' research programme, involving the study of digital technologies within a marginalised community, with the goal of addressing digital exclusion. We argue that similar forms of research, in which social scientists are involved in the deployment of experimental technologies within real world settings, are becoming increasingly prevalent. The fieldwork for the project was highly problematic, with the result that few users of the system were successfully enrolled. We analyse why this was the case, identifying three sets of issues which emerge in the juxtaposition of interdisciplinary collaboration and wild setting. We conclude with a set of recommendations for projects involving technologists and social scientists. Please RSVP, or contact Amrita with any queries- email@example.com
Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, writes in Nature that rather than relying on far-off negative-emissions technologies, the Paris Climate Change Summit (COP21) needed to deliver a low-carbon road map for today.
Read the full story, "Talks in the city of light generate more heat", here.
By Hollie Ashworth
Radioactive waste is a controversial topic. But understanding the difference between historic and new wastes would produce a more informed debate, explains Hollie Ashworth.
Read more here.
The project involved a number of partners including support from Northern Powergrid, The University of Manchester and De Montfort University, reports Bloomberg Business News.
Thursday 21st January, 4.00pm, room C1, George Begg Building - Professor Liz Varga, Cranfield University, UK
Infrastructure systems embrace not only the disciplinary fields of energy, water and waste, transport, and telecommunications, but also the inter-connections between these systems, and the systems which they depend on and which depend on them, including the environment and the climate. The whole is a complex ecosystem of innovation, co-evolution and opportunity but the darker side involves issues of definition and pluralism, measures and beneficiaries, interdependency and resilience, and methods for science and practice. This seminar takes a broad overview of complex infrastructure systems, and elaborates on the perspective using a number of research project examples.
Liz Varga is Professor of Complex Infrastructure Systems and Director of the Complex Systems Research Centre at Cranfield University, UK.
In June 2000 scientists attended a major climate conference as a prelude to the political negotiations in Paris in December. After four days of presentations the conference committee concluded that limiting “warming to less than 2 °C” is “economically feasible” and “cost effective.” This conclusion chimed with a headline statement from...
"...as a citizen concerned with the moral framing of climate change, I consider the 2°C increase above the pre-industrial average as too high. It is not a safe threshold. Many people will die as a consequence of a 2°C rise, and they will typically be poor..."
These were the questions posed at a debate on the UK energy industry during Policy Week, where PhD students from The University presented four different proposals as to how the North West could be self-sufficient in energy use – ideas which were then debated by a panel of experts...
What are the prospects for the Paris climate change negotiations? Based on the new book Power in a Warming World (MIT Press, September), this talk reviews Paris and previous rounds of climate negotiations by their level of adequacy to avert the worst impacts of climate change and...
Over 30 PhD students headed to Chancellors Hotel in Fallowfield to take part in an intensive four days of energy related talks, workshops, debates and fun sessions. The Manchester Energy Summer School showcased the full range of energy research taking place at the University.
Are you doing a PhD at The University of Manchester in an energy related topic? You may be interested to know that we hosted a four day residential summer school at Chancellors Hotel, Fallowfield which included energy related talks, workshops, debates and fun sessions.