Ultra-High Temperature Thermal Energy Storage

Investigating how energy can be input, stored and extracted from a material at a very-high temperature.

Renewable energy sourced from the sun, wind, waves or tides is clean and secure and is seen as a key component in the low carbon sustainable energy systems of the future. Unfortunately, the energy that can be extracted from renewables and the demand for it vary both temporally and spatially. Therefore, energy storage is required to match generation with use. To date grid-scale energy storage has being limited by low energy densities, long-term performance degradation, low round-trip efficiencies or limited deployment locations. Although thermal storage is reversible and has found uses, these have been restricted to lower temperatures by thermal losses resulting in low energy densities and uneconomical electricity generation efficiency. Storage at ultra-high temperature (1800K) would unlock greater energy densities than mechanical and electro-chemical methods whilst not being limited by location, cycle degradation or rare construction materials. However, there are key challenges that need to be overcome to unlock the promise of ultra-high temperature storage. One of these challenges relates to the excessive radiative heat losses which are far more difficult to control than conduction and convection. Through research it may be possible to find methods of reducing these losses to manageable levels. This could be achieved through developments in the design of the storage medium container or other techniques, including recovery using heat pumps. Other challenges centre on how a combined cycle gas turbine can be optimised for energy extraction from thermal storage, and how a commercial system might be configured for different operating scenarios

Within these outlines the successful candidate will be able to develop the project in line with their own particular research interests. Central to the project is the student’s collaboration with other researchers working on thermal storage as well as contributing to, the research community within the Institute of Energy Systems at Edinburgh University.

The successful candidate will be supervised by Dr Adam Robinson.

This is an excellent opportunity for a research student to develop their academic profile whilst making a substantial intellectual contribution to the development of Ultra-High Temperature Thermal Energy Storage. Beyond storage, the knowledge gained and techniques developed should be highly applicable to improving the energy efficiency of many high temperature processes including furnaces used for extractive metallurgy, chemical processing, and heat engines. The successful student will therefore gain technical expertise of high value in both industry and academia.

Further Information: 

To undertake this research, we are seeking a motivated candidate with an honours degree at 2:1 or above in Mechanical Engineering or a related topic. Some knowledge and experience of numerical methods, engineering design, experimental work and an ability to work effectively as an independent researcher will be advantageous.

The student will gain skills in mechanical engineering design, numerical modelling, experimental design and analysis, high temperature engineering and turbomachinery. These skills will be essential for a student seeking to enter industry as a technical expert in the energy engineering sector or wishing to pursue an academic career in mechanical engineering.

The successful applicant will work at the Institute of Energy Systems within the School of Engineering at Edinburgh University during this project.

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Principal Supervisor: 

Dr Adam Robinson

Eligibility: 

Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree.

Some knowledge and experience of numerical methods, engineering design, and experimental work preferred.

Proficiency at technical communication and knowledge of design packages would be an advantage.

Ability to communicate concepts and results effectively: verbally to colleagues, by oral presentation to groups, and in writing.

Aptitude to work within a collaborative group of investigators and to contribute to discussion, review and analysis of results.

Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.

Funding: 

Applications are welcomed from self-funded students, or students who are applying for scholarships from the University of Edinburgh or elsewhere.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: 

Closing Date: 

Thursday, March 1, 2018