Engineering at the University of Brighton

Multi-million dollar backing for clean energy breakthrough

A Brighton’s scientist’s research into storing clean, renewable energy has received a multi-million-dollar boost. Professor Rob Morgan, Professor of Thermal Propulsion Systems at the University of Brighton’s Advanced Engineering Centre in Moulsecoomb, has been collaborating for the past 12 years on the concept of turning air into liquid to stockpile energy, closely working with UK-based Highview Power, the owner of the technology and the IP, and the company bringing it to the global market.

The technology, developed by Highview Power, has already generated interest from the US and this week the Japanese industrial machinery giant Sumitomo Heavy Industries announced a $46m investment in Highview.

Highview Power and Sumitomo said the investment will be used to “accelerate growth and deployment” of the technology around the world.

Professor Morgan said: “This is exciting news, not just for the University but for society as a whole. This is extremely green technology which produces clean, affordable and grid-scale energy storage for balancing renewable power.”

Highview Power’s and the UK’s first full-scale ‘CRYOBattery™’ is being planned in the north of England. Once built, the plant is expected to supply enough storage to power 50,000 homes.

Professor Morgan said the CRYOBattery™ tank can store liquified air, chilled to -196C, and be fuelled by renewable energy. He explained: “Wind and solar farms sometimes produce excess energy, for instance, at night or during hot weather. Storing it as liquid air means it can be heated and turned back into a gas to drive turbines which generate electricity when demand increases.”

“In addition, this technology avoids the use of fossil fuels and is emission-free.

“The north of England plant will be the first of its kind in Europe and I believe this technology can go a long way to helping tackle the UK’s and, indeed, the world’s energy shortage – we could be talking about a £1bn industry in the future with 20,000 jobs in the UK alone, further commented Professor Morgan.”

London-based Highview Power, where Professor Morgan worked as Chief Technical Officer from 2009 to 2011, and the University of Brighton have worked together through three consultancies, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, and a project backed by Innovate UK.

Three University Early Career Researchers, Senior Lecturer Dr Angad Panesar, Principal Lecturer Dr Konstantina Vogiatzaki, and Research Fellow Dr Emily Pike-Wilson, have also been involved in this cooperation with Highview Power, developing their technology.

Professor Morgan, one of the project’s leading researchers, said: “We also have two of our PhD graduates working with Highview Power and our collaboration will continue.”

He added: “Given the technical leadership the UK has in liquid air storage, there is good potential for building a significant export industry.” · Professor Morgan has been working on another ‘cryo’ project, the development of a super-clean engine for vehicle, marine and power generation. For more on Professor Morgan, click here

Stephanie Thomson • March 16, 2020

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