Centre for Advanced Materials for Renewable Energy Generation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

Renewable and low carbon energy sources need to be more competitive if the world is to meet the carbon emissions targets agreed in COP21. CAMREG brings together cutting edge materials researchers who will work across discipline boundaries to increase renewable energy technology durability, reliability, utility, performance and energy yield. The aim of the Centre is to combine activity, know-how and facilities from a wide range of existing fundamental and applied materials science capacity to address the known and emerging challenges in renewable energy generation, including on- and off-shore wind, wave, tidal, conventional and next-generation solar photovoltaics and energy storage. CAMREG will support and hasten the establishment or expansion of viable and sustainable renewable energy industries in the UK.

The proposed centre offers a wide breadth and considerable depth of materials research capability and capacity in many areas of renewable energy and is aimed at reducing the overall levelised cost of energy to the consumer. The centre addresses 4 of the suggested areas in the Call in the following 3 themes: multifunctional materials for energy applications; materials for energy conversion & storage and smart materials for energy applications. Research areas include: efficient materials for PV and energy storage; materials for increased power density in electrical generators; improved design and testing of composite blades for wind and tidal turbines; smart materials and optical coatings that detect early damage in wind blades; smart coatings to minimise erosion and corrosion on blades and offshore support towers; lighter-weight design of structural steels; large-scale structural testing of components; better materials fatigue and failure management; lower-maintenance materials with improved resistance to wear and corrosion; superconducting materials to transfer power over long distances with less losses; high temperature ceramics and molten salt for energy storage; electrically responsive artificial muscles that can morph the shapes of wind turbine blades to ensure better energy yields, materials for increased conversion efficiency and better mooring for wave and tidal devices.

CAMREG is a partnership of 3 research-intensive universities, Edinburgh, Cranfield and Strathclyde, which would gather and network the interests, capacity and networks of many of the RCUK investments in energy research and training, and accruing over 200 industry connections: through 3 SuperGen Hubs, Marine UKCMER, Wind and Power Networks; 4 EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training - Wind Energy Systems, Wind & Marine Energy Systems, Offshore Renewable Energy Marine Structures and Integrative Sensing and Measurement; the EPSRC Industrial Doctorate Centre in Offshore Renewable Energy and the DECC SLIC (Offshore Wind Structural Lifecycle) Joint Industry Project - the largest industry-funded offshore renewables related materials and structures research project worldwide, involving Certification Authorities (DNV-GL and LR) and 10 of Europe's largest energy utility companies. The Centre will also respond to the needs and experience of device developers, project planners, legislators and consenting bodies, and academic partners will continue to work closely with key UK policy stakeholders.

CAMREG underpins the efforts at existing recognised centres of renewable energy and materials science research, and encourages networking with new research groups working in complementary areas and linking centres into a coordinated national network. Expected national impacts include: environmental benefits, through increasing the potential to displace fossil fuels; economic benefit through the expansion of employment and human capacity transfer from the existing offshore energy industries; increased diversity, security and resilience of electricity supply through reduction in dependence upon imported fuel and as indigenous coal oil and gas production declines.

Planned Impact

CAMREG has been designed to maximise the impact of the proposed research on the economy and society. The Management Team and its Research Advisory Board, as well as industry partners in existing projects will ensure that CAMREG research is targeted to reduce levelised costs and overcome developmental barriers to wider acceptance and deployment of existing and new technologies. The Centre will employ, at 50%, a Network Manager who will relate to and engage with all of the other virtual centres, the existing EPSRC investments in energy and materials research and industry stakeholders. The ambition of the Centre is to assist the UK to maintain its world-lead in wind, wave, tidal, next generation solar and storage energy technologies.

CAMREG will support the establishment or expansion of viable and sustainable renewable energy industries in the UK by underpinning the efforts at existing recognised centres of renewable energy and materials science research, and encouraging those centres to link with new research groups working in complementary areas and to link centres into a coordinated national network. It will exploit opportunities for disruptive technologies and solutions discovered at the intersection of its thematic capacities. This will have the following national impacts: environmental benefits, through increasing the potential to displace fossil fuels; economic benefit through the expansion of employment and human capacity transfer from the existing offshore energy industries; increased diversity, security and resilience of electricity supply through reduction in dependence upon imported fuel and as indigenous coal oil and gas production declines.

Academic partners across CAMREG will continue to work closely with key UK policy stakeholders, including (but not restricted to): RenewableUK Marine Strategy Group, ETI Advisory Boards, Scottish Renewables Marine Working Group, Scottish Government Marine Energy Group, Marine Management Organisation, Solar Trade Association, Royal Society of Chemistry Energy Campaign. This provides two-way communications channels between CAMREG and these groupings and will also position CAMREG centrally in the strategic formation of the innovation agenda.

CAMREG accrues over 200 industry connections through its direct interface with the RCUK SuperGen Hub investments in Marine, Networks, Wind and PV, 4 Centres for Doctoral Training and the JIP in the Centrica managed SLIC (Offshore Wind Structural Lifecycle Industry Collaboration) programme which includes Certification Authorities (DNV-GL and LR) and ten of Europe's largest energy utility companies. UoE IES staff serve on the Renewables UK Marine Strategy Group and Prof Wallace chairs the ORE-Catapult Research Advisory Group. They will report on CAMREG activity and take feedback and, in turn, the Centre will take advice on direction from the membership of these groups. This will position CAMREG centrally in the strategy formation of the innovation agenda and allow core and GC partners to engage more effectively with the Catapult, industry and the Horizon 2020 programmes.

The establishment and expansion of a renewable energy industry offers potential to create significant employment and regeneration in areas facing rural or industrial decline, with social, intellectual and economic impact. CAMREG will continue to disseminate and spotlight its findings and outcomes to the broader community through a mix of traditional and non-traditional media, outside its network structure.

Ensuring that the marine energy industry is environmentally sustainable is a key pre-requisite from resource assessment, through consenting into operation and decommissioning. The impact of failure to achieve environmental sustainability is huge and CAMREG will work with other national initiatives, sponsored by NERC, to ensure that best practices are developed for a fair and equitable operation to ensure acceptable minimal environmental impact.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The EPSRC Centre for Advanced Materials for Renewable Energy Generation (CAMREG) brought together two leading universities to conduct collaborative research in novel, smart and multifunctional materials for renewable energy conversion and storage. Led by Edinburgh and supported by Strathclyde University, the aim of the £2.5M Centre was to combine activity, know-how and facilities from across a wide range of existing fundamental and applied materials science capacity to address the known and emerging challenges in renewable energy generation and storage.

Work was split into three themes:

Theme 1: Multifunctional materials for energy applications
Theme 2: Materials for energy conversion and storage
Theme 3: Smart materials for energy applications

12 Keystone Projects and 13 further projects funded through our Flexible Fund were carried out under these themes. Highlights of our findings include the following:
- We investigated the use of luminescent coatings as means of optical measurement of mechanical strain. An important application area of this new technology is use as an in-situ non-destructive optical measuring sensor in moving components such as wind and tidal turbine blades.
- We developed new fatigue resisting materials for tidal, wave and wind turbine systems. The novel manufacturing strategy is based on a toughened powder epoxy gradient, which improves the erosion resistance properties without compromising the fatigue performance of the structures.
- We developed new anti-biofouling and self-monitoring coatings for offshore energy conversion systems based on electro chlorination in order to protect large exposed surfaces immersed in seawater. The chlorine species obtained via this method are quickly degraded, while a low concentration only (0.5ppm) is required for active protection on a targeted surface. This concentration is harmless for humans as it is the same chlorine concentration present in treated water for consumption purposes.
- We developed novel ways to manipulate light and enhance PV generation. Luminescent downshifting polymeric films with embedded emissive molecules were used to enhance the quantum yield of Silicon, CIGS and CdTe solar cells at short wavelength. New methods for printing luminescent polymer/dye layers onto PV modules were developed, allowing a post-manufacturing process to enhance appearance and performance of the device, consistent with stability requirements of outdoor use.
- We developed smart morphing aero- and hydro-dynamic working surfaces with enhanced durability for use with wind and tidal turbines. This technology deals with one of the main causes of failures of the blades, the unsteady loads that are due to both the environmental flow (turbulence, shear in the onset flow velocity profile, etc.) and to the rotation of the rotor.
- We designed 3D printing processes for silicone membranes as a novel manufacturing process for Dielectric Elastomer Wave Energy Generators. The 3D printing process is scalable and automatised and allows for optimisation of the desired features of the membrane structure. For the first time 3D printing was applied to produce large silicone membranes with optimised properties to be used in DEG devices.
- We developed a new class of adaptable free-standing hydroxide-ion exchange membranes for alkaline fuel cells. Our technology has the potential to render the ion exchange step unnecessary, which is currently carried out by the addition of NaOH, which in turn makes the system less stable in atmospheric conditions on account of the reaction between the hydroxide ions and carbon dioxide.
- We developed a novel thin-film solar cell architecture for improved device performance. We fabricated thin emitter layers with a lowered barrier height for electron transport via thermionic emission, resulting in more efficient PV cells.
Exploitation Route By design, all keystone and flex-funded projects had industrial input and/or collaboration. Several of these outputs have resulted in follow-up work with the companies, while there have already been three EPSRC funded research projects continuing the work of some of these keystone/flex-funded projects.
Sectors Energy,Environment

URL http://www.camreg.chem.ed.ac.uk/
 
Description DecarbonISation PAThways for Cooling and Heating (DISPATCH)
Amount £1,401,881 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/V042955/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2021 
End 09/2024
 
Description MetaTide: A new meta-material for enhanced fatigue life of tidal energy converters (as a UKCMER EP/P008682/1 Flex Fund project)
Amount £158,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2017 
End 11/2018
 
Description Morphing-Blades: New-Concept Turbine Blades for Unsteady Load Mitigation
Amount £909,851 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/V009443/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2021 
End 06/2024
 
Title Research data supporting "Directed Energy Transfer from Monolayer WS2 to Near Infrared Emitting PbS-CdS Quantum Dots" 
Description Optical characterisation data of 2D/QD heterostructure. i.e. steady state photoluminescence, absorption data of monolayer WS2, PbS-CdS quantum dots and WS2/PbS-CdS heterostructure; Time resolved PL of WS2, PbS-CdS and WS2/PbS-CdS heterostructure. Each data set is entitled with figure name in article i.e Main_Fig1c-e_SI_Fig3 contains raw data and figures for Figure 1c-e in main article and figure 3 in Supplementary information (SI) Main_Fig2_b-e_SI_Fig1-2 contains raw data and figures for Figure 2b-e in main article and figures 1-2 in Supplementary information (SI) Main_Fig_2a_RHS contains raw data for Figure 2a in main article Main_Fis_2a_RHS_processed contains figure for Figure 2a in main article Main_Fig3_Main_Fig5 contains raw data and figures for Figure 3 and 5 in the main article Main_Fig4 contains raw data and figures for Figure 4 in the main article 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
URL https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/311242
 
Title Research data underlying: Thiol-Anchored TIPS-Tetracene Ligands with Quantitative Triplet Energy Transfer to PbS Quantum Dots and Improved Thermal Stability 
Description Data underlying figures and conclusions in: Thiol-Anchored TIPS-Tetracene Ligands with Quantitative Triplet Energy Transfer to PbS Quantum Dots and Improved Thermal Stability Data files are: TETCA_PLQE_nT.txt TETSH_PLQE_nT.txt These two files contain the measured data for QDs with the two different ligands TETCA and TETSH with measured Absorption of the sample (AbsTOT),Absorption of TIPS-tetracene (AbsTc), Absorbance of the QD (AbsQD) the quantum yield when exciting the QD at 658 nm (QYqd), the quantum yield when exciting TIPS-Tetracene (QYpmf) the total triplet transfer efficiency (nT) and the standard deviation (error). PL spectra.txt The file contains the raw PL spectra of the bandage series of TETSH-QD samples when exciting the QD (Ex 658 nm, accumulated 8 spectra with 5s integration and 500uW excitation) and when exciting the TIPS-tetracene (Ex 515nm accumulating 2 spectra with 25 s integration and 200 uW excitation). Heating_PL_Spectra.txt PL spectra of QDs before and after heating Heating PLQE.txt Calculated quantum yields for the QDs before and after heating, including the QY of ligand emission (Ex515nm) and QY of QD emission (Ex658nm) 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2020 
Provided To Others? Yes  
URL https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/309242
 
Description KP3 - FreiLacke 
Organisation FreiLacke
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Partners from the University of Strathclyde and the University of Edinburgh / Institute for Materials and Processes offered expertise in the analysis of erosion mechanisms for tidal current blade materials and surface coatings. Lab facilities at the University of Edinburgh were used.
Collaborator Contribution FreiLacke Coatings offered consumables (epoxy powders) and staff time.
Impact DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2018.01.085
Start Year 2018
 
Title Anti-biofouling and self-monitoring coatings 
Description Biofouling protecting coatings on immersed components are intended to prevent barnacles, oysters, tubeworms and other marine life from attaching to wave energy converter and tidal turbine surfaces. Such growth dramatically increases cyclic fatigue loadings and reduces the electricity generated by marine renewable energy devices. Copper-based paints are usually used as antifouling technology. However, the toxicity of these paints, as well as toxic copper concentration build-up is a major concern, as were the previous organotin paint generation, which led to a worldwide ban in 2008. In this project, a new environmental friendly, self-sufficient and embedded system was developed. The developed technology is based on electro chlorination, which have been used for enclosed systems but never to protect large exposed surfaces immersed in seawater. The chlorine species obtained via this method are quickly degraded (half-life of several hours, depending on UV intensity). A low concentration only (0.5ppm) is required for active protection on a targeted surface. This concentration is harmless for humans as it is the same chlorine concentration present in treated water for consumption purpose. The electrical output can be set according to the harshness of the environment. In the event of power failure and uncontrolled fouling the system can be powered up to remove any growth as the production of the antifouling elements are produced at the points of attachment of the growth, the rate of removal can be accelerated by the use of longer pulses and/or higher current. The system is based on a low voltage (6V or lower) for safety considerations, has a very low energy consumption, and can therefore be supplied by renewable energy (e.g. solar/wind). 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Unlike existing solutions, the developed is not toxic and requires low voltage supply and has very low power consumption, making it both environmentally friendly, and very easy to be powered using renewable energy. 
 
Title Luminescent downshifting polymeric films 
Description Lightweight, flexible or semi-transparent photovoltaic systems with attractive colours could extend architectural opportunities and develop new possibilities such as portable or wearable PV, opening up new horizons and markets beyond those that can be addressed with current mature technologies. We have developed new luminescent downshifting (LDS) polymeric films with embedded emissive molecules that enhance the quantum yield of Silicon, CIGS and CdTe solar cells at short wavelength. 
Type Of Technology New Material/Compound 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact The use of advanced luminescent materials as LDS layer have been found to be difficult to justify with only improving solar cell efficiency. Therefore, improving the aesthetics of photovoltaics would match this gap, allowing wider implementation of solar cells. This is a new solution that has not been commercialised yet. As such, there is no direct impact as yet, but few companies showed interest in collaboration and our group is in discussions with them on how to take this forward. 
 
Description CAMREG Showcase Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event celebrated the achievements of the UK Advanced Materials for Energy Centres. Each Centre had the opportunity to orally present an exemplar research/translational case study, as well as share a wider selection of their activities through a general poster session. The overview of UK energy materials research strengths was further bolstered by industry presentations to exemplify translational pathways. EPSRC participation enabled the event to act as an early-stage awareness and planning activity around the future structure of Advanced Materials for Energy in the UK beyond the current EPSRC-funded centres. A visit to CAMREG-related research facilities within the University of Edinburgh was organised to showcase the Centre's research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.camreg.chem.ed.ac.uk/camreg-multi-centre-showcase-event
 
Description CAMREG Webinar series 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Centre for Advanced Materials for Renewable Energy Generation organises a webinar series with invited speakers both from within our consortium and external researchers leading their specific areas of research. The webinars are broadly publicised and so far have been attended by more than 200 participants, including energy professionals, researchers and postgraduate students. The topics of the lectures vary within the broad area of materials for energy applications; so far we have had talks on solar photovoltaics, composites for wind and tidal energy, thermoplastics and more. The webinar series is designed to be an opportunity for dissemination of the research done under CAMREG, the state-of-the-art in relevant areas at an international level, as well as an opportunity for networking. So far we have had seven invited speakers, with more webinars planned until the end of the grant.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
URL http://www.camreg.chem.ed.ac.uk/camreg-webinar-series
 
Description Ideas Factory 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The aim of this interactive and collaborative event was to create a space in which materials scientists/engineers can build a network with other peers, to develop their thinking about challenges in the field and to explore interdisciplinary approaches and ideas.
The main objectivesare to provide the participants:
• New connections in the energy and materials field
• A better awareness of flexible funding opportunities
• Access to partners for future project development
• Fresh ideas and a sense of how to develop these
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.camreg.chem.ed.ac.uk/camreg-project-factory-industry-engagement
 
Description Project Factory - Industry Engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This interactive and collaborative event was a follow up from the earlier Ideas Factory and focused in Industry strategic priorities and project/proposal building to meet those.

It also created a space in which materials scientists/engineers were able to build their network with their peers, to develop their ideas further into tangible proposals, thinking about challenges in the field and taking on board industry challenges.

The event wass structured to maximise time for networking, taking ideas developed in our last event to the next level and reacting to speakers.

Several industry representatives were invited and shared their views on the challenges in the area of materials science for renewable energy applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.camreg.chem.ed.ac.uk/camreg-project-factory-industry-engagement