Introduction to Energy Engineering.
The future of energy supply is a key challenge of the 21st century, as demands for energy become ever larger and traditional supplies are dwindling. In particular, the challenge to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels is driven by both concerns about climate change and the need to increase security of supply. Research on energy addresses both conventional (fossil fuel) and renewable sources of energy. Our research also examines the wider aspects of distribution and storage of energy, as well as the control of demand.
The major global challenges we are addressing are Energy and Emissions. Our research encompasses both measurements of flames and combustion in spark ignition engines – especially Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) Engines. We can measure the laminar burning velocity over wide ranging conditions of temperature, pressure and composition. Our co-flow diffusion flame is used for instrumentation development and measurements of particulate matter. Our GDI research is aimed at increasing efficiency of fuel usage, and reducing the environmental impact of particulate matter emissions.
The Cryogenic Engineering Group has interests ranging from cryo-coolers through to solar concentrators, and includes Stirling engines. The Cryogenic Engineering Group has high efficiency moving magnet and moving coil motor/generator designs that have been used for Stirling cycles, pulse tubes, Joule-Thomson coolers and refrigeration compressors. The Stirling engine is a development of the electromagnetically driven clearance-seal Stirling cycle cryo-cooler that was pioneered at Oxford over 30 years ago. The engine shown is a preliminary design for a generator powered by a radio-isotope heat source, part of a collaborative project for ESA, headed by SEA and including STFC RAL.
We research novel high torque density electrical machines for electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as degradation and thermal management of electrical machines. Oxford YASA motors originated from the group. We also explore energy consumption and CO2 emissions of road transport, researching the links between vehicle design, driver behaviour and infrastructure and fuel type.
Motivated by the urgency to move away from fossil fuels, we research thermal and electrochemical energy storage systems, life cycle analysis of energy systems, and sizing and techno-economic optimisation. We have a growing programme of research focused on battery management systems, including impedance measurement techniques for state of charge and state of health, thermal management, electrochemical modelling and parameter estimation. We are also interested in the use of domestic hot water cylinders and fridges as thermal energy stores for power grid balancing.
We have interests across a number of themes in renewable energy. A significant research effort has been focused on tidal energy, supported by a number of funding sources, including the Energy Technologies Institute. Work covers three areas: resource assessment, device and array scale behaviour and development of a specific tidal energy device. Other areas of work are focussed on support structure and foundation design, particularly for offshore wind turbines, but also for tidal energy. A feature of our work is the strong collaborative links with industry.