Energy storage research facilties

We have a suite of facilities for the development of energy storage systems that range from the atomic level required for the study of electrode interfaces through to those required for full scale testing of complete systems for use on the electricity supply system.

Our facilities for the development of new energy storage devices include recent investments in in-situ (i.e. during potential cycling) electrode characterisation, raman spectroscopy, a high current potentiostat and a pendant drop analyser.

Once a concept for a complete energy storage system has been developed, there remain a number of challenges before it can be deployed onto the power system. Firstly, the transmission and distribution operators have a duty to ensure that equipment deployed on their network meets both statutory requirements and offers good long term performance. As such, full scale testing is an essential part in the development process of any new power engineering technology and would see type testing taking place to ensure equipment meets relevant standards while also offering an opportunity for evidence to be gathered about the performance of the system when connected to the network and allow asset management strategies to be explored.

Lifetime Management & Converter Test | Energy Storage System integration and control | 100kW Test Bed | Hardware In The Loop | HV Test Facilities | HV Network Test Facility

Lifetime Management & Converter Test

We have a  high power (400V 400A) electrical energy storage testing facility that has the the capability to exercise individual cells and large-scale storage banks over a wide range of representative operating duties and environmental conditions. An environmental chamber (650 litre, -70°C to 180°C, 10-95% RH) enables the impact of environmental factors on battery lifetime to be examined.

A 1 MJ 30 kW super-capacitor-based energy storage system enables advanced controllers to be demonstrated over a wide range of operating scenarios.

This equipment is supported by a wide range of extensive high-power, high-bandwidth, test equipment that includes a wide range of dynamometers, power supplies and loading systems rated to in excess of 100 kW, along with high-fidelity instrumentation.

Energy Storage System integration and control

A fully-instrumented, programmable high-power (200 kW 240 kVA 100 kWh) AC grid connected energy storage system linked into the campus low voltage system enables control algorithms for grid services to be examined. It also monitors  the impact that these will have on the energy storage assets and the associated control and management systems. Alternative or hybrid energy storage elements can be connected to the energy storage system to assess their impact on the power network. The AC grid energy storage system can also be interfaced with the real-time hardware-in-the-loop power network simulator to enable local distribution network and wider power network studies to be undertaken.

100kW Test Bed

The Intelligent Electric Power Network Evaluation Facility (IEPNEF) is a state-of-the-art 100 kW DC aircraft-electrical systems demonstrator test rig. IEPNEF forms part of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Electrical Systems, and was funded by Rolls-Royce through the Systems Engineering for Autonomous Systems (SEAS) Defence Technology Centre (DTC) which was established by the UK Ministry of Defence and is central to their intelligent integrated energy management strategic priority.

IEPNEF comprises a real-time engine model that commands two electric drive engine shaft emulators (low and high pressure), which drive shaft-mounted generators having a combined capacity of 100 kW. A reconfigurable, 540 V, DC network routes the generator outputs to a suite of 30 kW bi-directional programmable load emulators and a programmable 1 MJ energy storage device. The entire system may be commanded from a real-time control system, enabling the emulation of complete flight profiles.

Hardware In The Loop

Essential for equipment intended for use in the energy system is the ability to carry out closed loop testing of hardware and control strategies – especially when there are dynamic characteristics in the systems being tested.

The hardware in the loop test facility allows hardware to be tested in a realistic manner by connecting actual storage, control and protection equipment in a closed loop with the simulator in the same manner that they are connected to the real power system. A variety of operating scenarios including fault, load rejection and islanded operation can be simulated in order to study the performance of this hardware under varying normal and abnormal operating conditions.

The Real Time Digital Simulator in Manchester allows us to run detailed switching models of power converters and integrated models of distribution and transmission networks with hundreds of three-phase buses (even if simplified representations are used) to fully explore the optimal integration and coordination of energy storage systems.

HV Test Facilities

The National Grid Power Systems Research Centre contains a suite of HV test facilities suitable for assessing the performance of any energy storage system. The largest HV lab has a floor area of 500m2 and includes a 2MV impulse generator, a 800kV AC cascade resonance test set, a 600kV DC test set, a 300kV AC test set and the latest numerical control, instrumentation and monitoring system with facilities for off-loading equipment using an overhead crane. The laboratory, which is the largest of any UK University, is capable of testing equipment that is intended for use on the 400kV power system. The laboratory also contains a 10kA high current source that can be used for the evaluation of thermal performance, wet spray facilities and a large acoustic chamber allowing testing in a noise free environment.

Smaller HV laboratories also exist within the facility and these have capability which includes a 300kV DC test set, 150kV AC test set and a range of advanced measurement equipment including partial discharge detectors capable of measuring less than 1pC. Environmental chambers and a salt fog chamber allow the assessment of power system equipment under a wide variety of conditions.

The laboratory supports research and teaching taking place at the University. We also work with industry partners on innovation projects and have staff resource that can be flexibly deployed to support this need. Examples of equipment tested in the HV laboratory include composite cross-arms for overhead line up-rating, superconducting fault current limiters, SF6 circuit breaker grading capacitors and line current monitors.

HV Network Test Facility

The University owns its own 6.6kV network which is fed from a primary substation. The range of loads on the network is diverse and includes cultural assets, offices, student residences and industrial type loads used within research facilities. The University is now offering this network as a Living Lab  to enhance the performance of the University estate while providing  ways in which new approaches to energy systems in an urban environment can be tested and demonstrated at a scale that is relevant to real world experience.  In this context the University is small enough to control but large enough to matter.

Unlike most private networks and purpose build “smart grid” demonstrator facilities the private network at the University of Manchester is a small version of a real network with assets of different ages and technologies, and a variety of load types ranging from the residential to industrial type loads along with a small amount of distributed generation making it typical of public networks.

The precision monitored ring covers humanities buildings, library, museum, administrative buildings and the MBS car park which is also designated as the location for electric vehicle charging points.  Significant funding has already been secured to enhance the capability of the electrical network that will be applied to this ring.  The upgrade includes the provision of a 1000kVA energy storage connection at the transformer supplying the Car Park with EV charging points. 

Data from the test system is collected using the leading OSIsoft platform and this supports a range of activities including use of such data within a smart cities context.

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