Tuesday 27th September 2016                 Change text size:

£11m fund backs pro-growth climate action



ross sea antarctica by brookpeterson via flickr

A system which uses the sun to cool buildings and uses no electricity, an ultra-low temperature battery that can be used in Antarctica and a biofuel cell which turns a waste product from beer into energy are some of the latest technologies backed by Government experts.

The new innovations are some of the 32 different projects that have been supported through the latest £11.3m round of the Energy Catalyst programme. The Energy Catalyst is a joint programme run by the Government’s innovation experts at Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “We are clear that taking action on climate change goes hand in hand with securing our long term economic and energy security. By backing businesses and helping them grasp the opportunity that clean growth represents we can have pro-growth climate action.

“That’s exactly what the Energy Catalyst, run by Innovate UK and the EPSRC, does and these businesses that we’re supporting today have recognised the growth and productivity boost that a clean economy represents.”

The Energy Catalyst programme supports innovative ideas all the way from early concept through to prototype demonstrators so long as they help tackle the energy ‘trilemma’ of reducing carbon emissions, reducing costs and increasing security of supply. More than two hundred high quality applications were assessed by Innovate UK for this second round of the competition.

Head of Energy at Innovate UK Rob Saunders said: “Tackling the energy trilemma is the biggest challenge facing the energy sector today. Businesses, consumers and producers are all recognising the economic sense of reducing costs and carbon emissions, as well as making sure we have a resilient energy supply.

The Energy Catalyst is specifically designed to address that challenge, while at the same time helping firms across the UK benefit economically from it and bring innovative new products to the market.”

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive said: “Based on the environmental, economic and security concerns alone , we have a pressing need to increase clean energy production, reduce energy waste and improve our abilities to store energy.  By supporting research in universities and collaboration with industry to accelerate application of its research results, the Energy Catalyst is helping the UK become more efficient, resilient and productive.”

The 32 supported projects are based all over the country and will start their projects in November.

Solar Polar, based in Peterborough, has invented a solar cooling system that will require no electrical power, will have no moving parts and will provide cooling at low cost. The innovative system design will be simple to build with local materials, will be easy to maintain, reliable and will have an operating lifetime of 30 years or more. It will be ideally suited to the cooling requirements of dwellings and small to medium sized offices, small scale food storage and retail spaces.

Hyperdrive Innovation based in Sunderland and Oxis energy from Oxford are working with the British Antarctic Survey to test the feasibility of a new generation of energy storage for use in extremely cold climates. They will test the chemistry of a rechargeable battery, battery management system and packaging that can withstand and outperform current batteries. Such a battery would allow British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to significantly increase their scientific measurements made in the Antarctic, but without increasing transport costs or emissions.

Chester based C-Tech Innovation and Imperial College, London are developing a device which takes waste water containing carbohydrates such as sugar from food producers, breweries and other processes that are contaminated with a sugars and uses it to simultaneously generate electricity in a low cost but high power fuel cell whilst cleaning the waste water.

Converting sea wave motion into electrical energy is challenging due to the relatively low speeds and irregular movements of ocean waves. Working with researchers at the University of Bristol and Southampton, WITT Ltd (WL) has devised a scalable energy generation device called the WITT that has the capability to harness wave energy. The team has made use of Southampton’s wave tank facility to test prototypes.

The WITT converts the chaotic, multidirectional mechanical motion of the ocean into a single unidirectional rotation used to drive an efficient generator for the production of electricity. By housing the device inside a sealed unit operation requires very low maintenance overcoming another of the challenges of harnessing wave energy. Already, orders to manufacture small units to power buoys have been received, but the technology could be used to harvest power from all kinds of motion on land, in the air or at sea.


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