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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T024127/1
Title: TGA/FTIR as a Core Equipment for Delivering Research on Energy System Compound Stability
Principal Investigator: Stephenson, Professor T
Other Investigators:
Sumner, Dr J
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: School of Water, Energy and Environment
Organisation: Cranfield University
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 12 February 2020 Ends: 11 August 2021 Value (£): 99,903
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Bioenergy Carbon Capture & Storage
Energy Storage Materials Characterisation
Sustainable Energy Vectors
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Nov 2019 EPSRC Capital Award for Core Equipment Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Currently there are large global challenges in the sustainable, reliable generation of energy and power which, through population growth and industrial development, are expected to increase rapidly (IEA; BP, 2018) while there is a need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb climate change (IPCC). To cut emissions, the UK has committed to reduce CO2 emissions relative to 1990 levels by 80% by 2050 (Climate Change Act 2008); recently amended to 'net zero' emissions by 2050.

However, to tackle recent energy and power challenges and meet these CO2 reductions, more needs to be known about specific compounds, as explained below. These compounds include the corrosion-inducing deposits formed by biomass/wastes on the heat exchangers of thermal plant; the stability of these deposits at different temperatures; the impact of power plant gas environment on deposits; the gases that form when these deposits degrade; and the stability of the salts in thermal energy storage systems. All of these areas can be elucidated with the careful application of Thermo-Gravimetric Analysis (TGA; to study the time and temperature at which compounds/mixtures become unstable) and Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR; to study evolved gases).

Each of these research areas involves the use of 'corrosive' or 'dirty' atmospheres for study. The purchased TGA/FTIR will specifically cater to this, with dedicated gas lines to a gas compound and gas detectors for safety. While this equipment will be held within Cranfield's Energy and Power theme, it will provide analytical data to a wide range of researchers based in other themes/centres (including Manufacturing, Aerospace, Water and Transport). These tie in to a range of EPSRC-funded research areas including: Analytical Science, Bioenergy, Carbon Capture and Storage, Combustion Engineering, Energy Storage, Fossil Fuel Power Generation, Materials for Energy Applications, and Materials Engineering - Metals and Alloys.

This equipment will support significant research activities at Cranfield relating to energy and power supply. For example, substituting fossil fuels in thermal power plant with low carbon biomass/wastes brings benefits (crops/wastes use CO2 emitted by the previous combustion cycle). However, there is a wide variety of biomass/waste fuels, dependent upon the global location and time of year, each containing different compounds to conventional fossil fuels (often lower sulphur and higher chlorine levels). Thus, high temperature degradation processes in power plants (e.g. costly heat exchanger fireside corrosion), will vary considerably. Indeed, biomass combustion leads to rapid metal wastage rates and reduced plant life, only offset by lower plant temperatures and so reduced efficiency.

Renewable energy may appear to side-step the challenges of thermal power plant. However, being intermittent, at times little power is produced needing thermal plant to meet demand. When thermal plant 'cycles' from full-load (few renewables) to part-load (plentiful renewables) additional degradation processes occur (fatigue, thermo-mechanical fatigue) as well as part-load being lower efficiency, due to lower operational temperatures. Energy storage systems may 'solve' intermittent renewables, however, a single predominant technology has yet to materialise. Moreover, the requirements for high energy density, repeated charging-discharging cycles, and long-term stability present their own unique challenges. Currently the storage of heat energy using molten salts is under consideration.

Aspects of all of the above challenges are currently being researched at Cranfield University and would benefit from access to this underpinning multi-user equipment. Specifically, projects are underway related to:

*Biomass/waste combustion (and/or co-firing)

*The impacts of altered plant temperature

*The interactions of corrosion and fatigue

*The impact of molten salts on the materials the plant is made from.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.cranfield.ac.uk