Energy Lancaster Seminar Series - 2015 Seminars
- The Bailrigg Campus as a living energy lab
- Options to decarbonise the UK’s energy needs for 2050
- Finally carbon-free? - Ideas and challenges for next-generation Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell catalysts
- Electricity systems – the essential energy vector
- The Dynamics of Energy, Mobility and Demand
- Research and Policy Q&A session
- Recent Advances in Materials Technology for PEM Water Electrolysis used in Large Scale Energy Storage Applications
- The UK’s low carbon pathway to 2030:uncertainties and implications for decision-making
- Limits to Growth and Climate Change
- Neutrons and Energy Materials
Friday 20th March 2015
Jan Bastiaans, Adrian Friday, Harry Hoster
Energy Lancaster will be exploring how Lancaster University's Bailrigg campus will increasingly be used as a living lab
to research and demonstrate sustainable energy systems and practices. The seminar will set out the role of Energy
Lancaster, the collaboration of academics engaged in energy related research and teaching at Lancaster University.
The University's energy manager will outline how the existing energy infrastructure could be used as a living lab and
highlight some of the projects aimed at reducing emissions and improving the research opportunities around energy.
Attendees will have a chance to help shape the future of energy at Lancaster University.
Jan Bastiaans, Energy Manager, Lancaster University Facilities
Adrian Friday, Reader at School of Computing and Communications, Lancaster University
Harry Hoster, Professor of Physical Chemistry and Director of Energy Lancaster, Lancaster University
Friday 17th April 2015
The UK faces a series of “Options, choices and actions” to move towards a low-carbon energy future that meets the
country’s climate change targets. Launched in 2007, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has been advancing the
technology understanding to help frame those decisions across a variety of energy pathways. This short presentation
will give an overview of some of the different technologies, challenges and the opportunities faced on this journey to
a low-carbon future, with particular focus on bioenergy – one of the key priorities for this journey.
Jonathan Oxley, Project Manager, Energy Technologies Institute (www.eti.co.uk)
Presentation on the Web:
Finally carbon-free? - Ideas and challenges for next-generation Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell catalysts
Friday 8th May 2015
The introduction of supported oxygen reduction electrocatalysts, where nano-particulate Platinum-Group-Metals
(PGM) are supported on high surface area carbons, put Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells (PEFCs) on par with catalytic
converters in terms of PGM use. But, this significant step towards economic viability came at a price. It has become
clear that the lifetime of this first generation of commercial PEFC catalysts will be limited by carbon corrosion. Hence,
the search is on for second generation alternatives. In this talk, I will show how computational materials design can
lead the way to identify viable candidate materials and, probably even more important, enables to cross-off unviable
approaches. I will discuss our recent work on SnO2 as a potential carbon-substitute touching on stability, conductivity
and catalyst-support interactions that are quite typical for the full range of currently considered oxide supports.
Denis Kramer, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton
Denis Kramer’s research interests focus on electrochemical energy technologies such as fuel cells and batteries. He
mainly works at the interface between theory and experiment to combine computational materials design (based on
DFT) with advanced electrochemical techniques to discover technology-enabling materials. He worked at the Paul
Scherrer Institut (Switzerland) applying neutron imaging to fuel cells, spend two years at MIT studying Li-Ion batteries
based on DFT, and relocated to the UK in 2009 to study electrocatalysts for low temperature fuel cells at Imperial. He
pursues his research interests at the University of Southampton since 2011.
Friday 5th June 2015
Why is electricity important?
There are dozens of different low-carbon technologies that could help Britain achieve the targets in the Climate
Change Act – wave and tidal energy, solar PV, onshore and offshore wind, heat pumps, electric and hybrid vehicles,
energy recuperation, rail electrification, district heating, … … … All rely, to a greater or lesser extent, on a reliable
Some energy scenarios show a largely steady electricity demand out to 2050 while others, involving a transfer of
transport and heating loads to renewable energy, suggest electricity demand could double. In either case, electricity
looks like an essential ingredient of any low-carbon energy scenario and the ability to maintain a stable grid system
interconnecting supply and demand will be important.
The challenges of decarbonisation
For 100 years, the principles behind Britain’s electricity sector remained largely unchanged. The steam turbine was
demonstrated by Sir Charles Parsons in 1884 and, before the First World War, Charles Merz had established the
world’s first ac distribution grid in Newcastle upon Tyne.
The last decade has seen the beginnings of a revolution: this is an international trend and one that will change the way
established power systems operate. In Britain the Climate Change Act 2008 and similar regulations have triggered a
paradigm shift in the way electricity will be produced. So far, we have seen relatively small changes but phasing-out
coal-fired power stations by the mid-2020s and the widespread adoption of renewable energy will change the power
Work by professional bodies and National Grid plc, Britain’s energy network company, have identified several
technical issues that could disrupt the smooth operation of the grid. With electricity supply heavily dependent on
solar, tidal and wind renewables and with the seasonal heating load increasingly reliant on electricity, there will be
challenges in matching supply and demand. The closure of coal-fired power stations will eliminate the steadying
effect of the massive turbo-generators on frequency and the increasing amount of wind and solar generation that is
fed through electronic converters will reduce the “stiffness” of the supply and its ability to withstand surges and
Roger Kemp is a Professorial Fellow in the Engineering Department at Lancaster University. His research interests
include the safety regulation of the nuclear industry as well as energy use and safety regulation of transport systems.
He is particularly concerned with energy use in transport and contributed to the Department for Transport white
paper on sustainable transport. His research interests include the safety regulation of the nuclear industry as well as
energy use and safety regulation of transport systems. He spent 4 years on the Engineering Policy Committee of the
Royal Academy of Engineering and is on the IET Energy Policy Panel. He has provided advice for government
departments and given evidence to select committees.
Friday 3rd July 2015
Energy is not consumed for its own sake: it is consumed through and in the course of accomplishing social practices.
Patterns of energy demand are consequently inseparable from the rhythms and practices of daily life. In this talk I
will be exploring the practical, policy related and theoretical implications of these basic insights. I will make use of a
range of new empirical research into the daily and seasonal peaks and troughs of energy and mobility, into the
historical coevolution of infrastructures and practices, and into the characteristics of ‘car dependence’. I will end with
a discussion of the relevance of non-energy policy for energy demand, and with some comments about where
opportunities for steering demand might lie.
Elizabeth Shove is Professor of Sociology and co-director of the DEMAND (Dynamics of energy, mobility and demand)
research centre at Lancaster University – www.demand.ac.uk. Recent books include The Dynamics of Social Practice,
with Mika Pantzar and Matt Watson (Sage 2012), and Sustainable Practices: social theory and climate change, edited
with Nicola Spurling (Routledge 2013).
Friday 10th July 2015
House of Commons Specialists
Specialists from the House of Commons will give a brief introduction to the use of research in policy and will then take
questions from the floor. This is an excellent opportunity to get an insight into the workings of Westminster and how
we can contribute our policy relevant research, regardless of discipline.
House of Commons Specialists
Recent Advances in Materials Technology for PEM Water Electrolysis used in Large Scale Energy Storage Applications
Friday 21st August 2015
Nicholas van Dijk
In a world in which fossil fuel energy is becoming ever more scarce and expensive and countries are struggling to meet
their carbon reduction obligations, hydrogen solutions have finally reached the top of energy agendas. The only
industrially applicable zero carbon method to produce hydrogen is via electrolysis utilizing renewable sources of
ITM Power is at the very heart of the initiatives and programmes to adopt hydrogen technology that will reduce both
carbon footprints and energy costs. Using its technology and know-how, ITM is aiming to be the world’s leading
supplier of both infrastructure for the production of green hydrogen transport fuel, and products for the generation
and storage of hydrogen fuel from intermittent renewable energy sources.
Despite having a number of electrolyser products on the market, ITM Power have an active PEM electrolyser research
and development programme aimed at the next generation of electrolysers. Some of the electrochemical and
materials challenges faced by both ITM and the industry will be presented along with recent results, and example of
which is given below.
PEM electrolysers have a lifetime of 5-10 years; as such there is difficulty in getting new materials to market. ITM have
developed a novel in-situ reference electrode to help understand catalyst degradation within the cell. This approach
enables separation of the relative contributions of anode and cathode to the overall reaction. During shut down
periods it was observed for the first time that the cathode contributes more to changes in the open circuit voltage.
This knowledge has been used to show that the majority of the degradation is occurring on the cathode catalyst,
which is in contrast to the perceived thought which assumes the anode degrades faster. Changes in the
electrochemically active surface area of the platinum cathode as a result of potential cycling were determined in-situ
via hydrogen underpotential cyclic voltammetry. Scanning electron microscopy and X-ray tomography were used to
correlate changes in catalyst morphology with performance degradation of both carbon-supported and unsupported
platinum catalysts. These experiments have led to the development of accelerated stress tests, based on cycling of the
electrode potential, for PEM electrolyser catalysts.
Nicholas van Dijk, Research Director
Friday 9th October 2015
The UK has ambitious climate change targets, including a commitment to an 80% reduction in emissions from 1990
levels by 2050. The recently elected Conservative government confirmed its support for the Climate Change Act which
provides a legal basis for these targets. Whilst UK emissions have fallen in compliance with statutory targets so far,
further emissions reductions will be increasingly challenging. The 4th carbon budget (2023-27) was agreed by the last
government, but was controversial. Preparations for the 5th budget (2028-32) are now underway.
This talk will present the results of an integrating research project by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). The
project assessed the feasibility of the UK’s planned low carbon pathway to 2030, and the uncertainties that could have
an impact on achievability. It included detailed research on uncertainties in power generation investment, low carbon
technology deployment, heat demand and networks. It also assesses systemic uncertainties associated with public
attitudes and environmental impacts. The research identified the main uncertainties, their extent, and strategies to
reduce, manage and/or understand them. The talk will explore the implications of the research for government
policies, with a particular emphasis on significant policy changes that have started to emerge under the new
Professor Jim Watson, Director, UK Energy Research Centre
Presentation on the Web:
Monday 12th October 2015
The current situation of humankind can be understood in terms of irreversible changes occurring within the
ecosystem. Mining is one of these changes: most minerals that are extracted and processed today are lost forever as
economic commodities as they are dispersed in the atmosphere and in the earth's crust. The latter phenomenon we
call "pollution" and it is another change that occurs in its most worrisome aspect in the form of climate change; the
result of the combustion of the fossil carbon species we call "fuels". The emitted greenhouse gases will be completely
re-absorbed by the ecosystem only in hundreds of thousands of years, so this is another kind of change that we can
define as irreversible from the viewpoint of human beings. These two phenomena, depletion and pollution, are strictly
linked to each other; the one would not exist without the other and they can only be understood in full if they are
considered together. Often, we speak of these phenomena as "problems" and that term implies the search for
solutions which, normally, are understood in terms of maintaining the present societal structures, including economic
growth. However, once the irreversible nature of these changes is understood, we see that the very concept of
"solution" is inadequate. You can solve a problem, but you cannot solve a change; you can only oppose a change or
adapt to it. And only one of these strategies is feasible if the change is irreversible. So, we need to adapt to the
changes that we ourselves are creating in the ecosystem. Although necessary, adaptation is not necessarily pleasant,
especially if it is not planned in advance. Nevertheless, we don't have to succumb to the diffuse prophecies of doom;
there are ways to adapt intelligently and to maintain the characteristics that make us call the current human presence
on this planet a "civilization."
Ugo Bardi, Università di Firenze (Italy) and Club of Rome
Ugo Bardi is a member of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Florence, where he teaches physical
chemistry. His research interests include mineral resources, renewable energy, and system dynamics applied to
economics. He is a member of the Club of Rome, of the scientific committee of the Association for the Study of Peak
Oil (ASPO), and Climalteranti, a group active in climate science.
Presentation on the Web:
Friday 20th November 2015
Martin Owen Jones
Neutron diffraction, neutron spectroscopy and muon spectroscopy are powerful tools to investigate the fundamental
properties of materials. When combined with complex sample environment they allow functional materials to be
characterised in the conditions of actual operation – in operando experimentation. Here I will highlight why neutrons
are such a good probe to study materials, and through a series of case studies looking at energy materials, including
batteries, hydrogen storage materials and catalysts, demonstrate some of the capabilities of the ISIS neutron
spallation facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
Dr Martin Owen Jones, Energy Materials Coordinator for ISIS at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory