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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/C522788/1
Title: PLATFORM: Decentralised polygeneration of energy: Cross-disciplinary research at Imperial College London
Principal Investigator: Leach, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Green, Prof. T Brandon, Professor NP Bauen, Dr AW
Shah, Professor N Anderson, Professor D Adjiman, Professor CS
Hart, Professor D
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Environmental Science and Technology
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Platform Grants (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 June 2005 Ends: 31 August 2007 Value (£): 420,153
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Power Sys Man, Prot & Control Sustainable Energy Networks
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Private ownership of the electricity industry means large scale investments are often less attractive than smaller, modular generation with rapid construction times. Emerging technologies for such smaller, 'decentralised', electricity generation also allows power providers to produce electricity near to the point of use (rather than near the source of fuel as for many conventional large scale power stations), with reduced losses in long distance transmission of power, reduced costs in reinforcing the power transmission network, and improved opportunities for 'co-generation' of power and heat, with the use of 'waste' heat in homes and businesses. Cogeneration and other efficiency improvements reduce the environmental emissions associated with the energy system, and can help the movement towards a lower carbon economy.New, cleaner, electricity generation technologies capable of operating at high efficiencies at small sizes offer great promise, but their development, and integration with the existing power system, pose new technological, operational, economic and regulatory challenges. The original Platform Grant at Imperial College London has made important contributions to the understanding of key decentralised energy system options, and has helped build this field into one now attracting much greater interest in UK and international research and policy.For the renewed programme, we propose to develop our approaches through a focus on the emerging concepts for `polygeneration' energy systems. Polygeneration describes the combined production of multiple energy products - moving beyond cogeneration of heat and power. The most exciting concepts involve production of energy products to serve both `stationary' power/heat and transport markets, creating novel linkages between these two traditionally separate energy systems. Linkage between stationary and transport energy markets can provide dramatic improvements in the percentage of time the energy conversion equipment is in use, and help to smooth out the normal fluctuations in demand for energy over time. The opportunity to fine-tune the mix of outputs to match changes in demand and/or product prices, and the ability to use a wide variety of resource inputs, has potential economic benefits to the operator, the wider energy system and society at large. Polygeneration systems may use a wide range of fossil and renewable energy sources (such as gas, coal, biomass and wastes), utilise a variety of energy conversion technologies (including gasification and pyrolysis) and produce a range of products (including electricity and heat/cooling, gases and liquids). The scale of the plant can also vary, from very large centralised energy stations to small installations located within urban areas.Through a combination of 'multi-scale' and supply chain modelling, the programme will investigate the options for polygeneration, characteristics of potentially key systems, their linkage into energy markets and the wider supply chain. Questions which will drive the research include: What should be moved from place to place - primary resources, processed fuels, electricity or even technologies?; What are the relative benefits (e.g. economic, social, environmental, robustness etc.) of centralised and de-centralised systems?; What alternative migration paths are there from the current infrastructure to future infrastructures that will meet varied societal needs? What are the performance characteristics of alternative configurations? How can the supply chain be decarbonised?
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk