ETP PECRE Projects 2017


Mr Tamas Istvan Jozsa, Marine Energy, George Washington University - Compliant coatings for tidal turbine blades


The applicant’s research aims to develop a coating deformed by fluid mechanical forces which is able to reduce the drag experienced by the coated body in a fully turbulent flow. Such a material could be combined with antifouling coatings and enhance the performance of tidal turbines which are parts of ETP’s Marine Energy Theme. So far the
low-order theoretical coating model allows only simple in-plane wall motions. The applicant used an in-house computational fluid dynamics (CFD) code to deliver proof-of concept simulations which shows that drag reduction is possible with the theoretical coating. To raise the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) from three to four, a high-fidelity coating model has to be implemented which will help to design the functional prototype of the coating. The main objective of the proposed program is knowledge exchange.

First, the applicant will share his research experience with Professor Balaras and they will conceptualise the coating. Secondly, the applicant will learn the immersed boundary method from Professor Balaras who is a pioneer of the method. After the applicant acquires the fundamentals of the method he will be able to model arbitrarily complex wall motions and couple a realistic coating model to the fluid flow simulation. The planned simulations are the first of its kind so publication(s) in high impact journal(s) are expected. The exchange will help the research group to come up with the first practical compliant coating design which is milestone of the product development (TRL4). The secondary objective of the exchange is to engage potential partners to invest in the research and join the collaboration. The applicant will contact Professor Michael Schultz (U.S. Naval Academy), who is an expert on marine coatings and has state-of-the-art experimental facilities to test the future functional prototype of the coating.

Professor Schultz is indirectly part of the research network since he is a partner of the applicant’s industrial sponsor, International Paint Ltd. During the visits the applicant will present the current state of the research, seek feedback, and attempt to identify common research goals.

Dr Claudia Fernandez-Martin, Carbon Capture and Storage, Instituto ITACA Universidad, Politécnica de Valencia (UPV) - Dynamic measurements of dielectric properties of newly developed adsorbents to be used in gas separation processes and post-combustion carbon capture assisted with microwave heating

There is an unquestionable research need for more efficient technologies to capture CO2 which will allow the decrease of the energy penalties and costs associated with the incorporation of carbon capture in power plants. Adsorption at low to moderate temperatures using solid adsorbents is a very promising and cost effective capture technology to control CO2 emissions from largefixed sources such as power plants that offers potential energy savings compared to the currently employed amine scrubbing process. However, the energy penalty of CO2 capture from the flue gas (generated from the combustion of fossil fuels) is the major challenge of post-combustion CO2 capture technologies.

The reasons are the low concentration of CO2 in the flue gas (15% for coalfired), and the current costs of separating CO2 to attain high purities (≥ 95.5%), needed for its transport and storage. The addition of post-combustion carbon capture in gas or coal-fired plants would increase the cost of electricity by 32% and 65%, respectively. Thus, if research were able to reduce the required energy and monetary costs of CO2 separation within the increase of the current efficiency of the technology, it would significantly reduce the actual economic barrier to CCS implementation.

The separation is normally achieved by a cyclic process where CO2 is first adsorbed on the surface of the solid material, it is recovered by means of thermal swing adsorption (TSA), then the CO2 is released from the adsorbent surface as consequence of the temperature rise. Then CO2 is compressed, transported and finally storaged deep underground.

The main drawback of any adsorption process is the cost of the energy required to regenerate the adsorbent. Accordingly, the main objective of this project is to study the potential applications on CCS of an alternative and cost-effective heating technology for the regeneration of the adsorbents, such as the direct and more selective heating resultant from the irradiation of sorbents with microwaves (2.45 GHz). The microwave swing adsorption (MWSA) could potentially decrease the energy penalty associated with regeneration as it is a direct and volumetric heating that will mean less energy requirements as a result of the reduction of the problems associated with of heat transfer limitations found with conventional heating.

The main aims of this project are to study the interaction with microwaves of the selected best CO2 capture materials used for post-combustion capture, as well as their thermal response under real post-combustion conditions. For doing that, the dielectric constant and loss factor (crucial characteristics that determine whether a material is suitable or not to absorb MW, and to transform the energy absorbed into heat) will be measured and analysed at the UPV in the dedicated purpose-built equipment design for working under dynamic process conditions. The results obtained from this collaboration will provide the scientific community with answers on the suitability of this new proposed technology for  CCS and gas separation applications.

Anna Garcia Teruel, Marine Energy, School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering, Oregon State University - Metaheuristic Methods for the Geometry Optimization of Wave Energy Converters

Due to the high energy potential found in ocean waves, many different types of wave energy systems have been developed in the past years, with the goal of finding an economically competitive design, which at the same time enables maximal power extraction. This process is essentially multi-objective. The ongoing research at the University of Edinburgh (UoE) consists of developing an optimization process to find the most suitable device shapes to minimize the levelized cost of energy (LCOE). With the existing metaheuristic method, a genetic algorithm, collector shapes are generated randomly and are then analysed according to their performance. The code is expected to be further developed to be able to account for relevant cost factors for the LCOE within a multi-objective geometry optimization process.

Ensuring convergence to a near globally optimal shape, and achieving this within an acceptable timescale, is not trivial and requires a thorough selection of the optimization algorithm. The goal of this exchange is to address the challenge of finding a suitable and efficient optimization method for this particular application.

Prof DuPont’s group from Oregon State University (OSU) has extensive experience in the characterization of optimization methods and their particular application to the development of wave energy systems. This represents an excellent complementary expertise to the University of Edinburgh’s hydrodynamic modelling of WECs and techno-economic assessment experience.

Through this exchange, the currently employed optimization process could be improved and alternative optimization methods and their suitability for this application studied. The process could then be further developed to implement a multi-objective optimization to enable the consideration of the various factors related to the device geometry that contribute to the levelized cost of energy.

Industry-relevant outputs, increased impact, joint paper publications and a long lasting collaboration would result from this exchange.

Dimitrios Athanasiadis,
Power Networks and Grid Technologies, New York University - Distributed voltage regulation via multi-agent systems

The proposed research collaboration is based on the work published as: “Optimal Distributed Voltage Regulation for Secondary Networks with DGs”, Li Yu, Dariusz Czarkowski, and Francisco de León. IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, Vol. 3, No. 2, June 2012. This paper states “The proposed algorithm can be implemented via multi-agent systems (MAS). First, control agents and measurement agents are installed in the network and are divided into several groups based on system decomposition results, which also determine the communication links between agents. Then, interaction rules are set for each control agent and measurement agent in every subnetwork.”

We would like to implement this as a joint project. The New York University (NYU) research demonstrates how distributed voltage regulation is achieved by solving a linear programming (LP) optimization problem with an objective function that allows every distributed generator (DG) to optimize its generation. The control actions can be coordinated using communications between agents in the same subnetwork, and each agent would have its own knowledge about the network state and the information received from other agents through messages. In addition, each agent can employ learning to adjust its own activity. The Presage2 agent framework has already been used to build a MAS system for flexible network management which integrates various control algorithms, such as power flow management and voltage control, by the team at the University of Strathclyde. Based on this Presage2 framework, the communication between the nodes can be achieved and interaction rules can be set for agents in every subnetwork to achieve the voltage regulation.


Mr. Masoud Ghaderi Zefreh, Oil and Gas, University of Texas at Austin - Fit-for-purpose simulator for scale management at production wells

The aim of this research is to develop and implement a new methodology in the area of reservoir simulation and in specific, scale prediction. The new simulator shall overcome difficulties of inaccurate, computationally expensive and highly dispersive methods, and takes into account chemical nonlinearities. This goal will be achieved by combining the literature from hyperbolic differential equations, chemistry of scaling and physics of multiphase flow into an exclusive model for scale prediction.

The project draws from and relies on expertise from different disciplines and universities. While at the moment, two models for dissolution/precipitation and for ion-exchange has been developed separately, a compound model of both as well as other processes is in the scope of the project. UT Austin has one of the world leading team of experts on reactive flow. Thus, one of the objectives of the exchange is to combine pH effect (and possibly non-equilibrium) phenomena with the already developed models through collaborative discussions. The results will be generalized later to multiphase and multicomponent systems.

A close collaboration on the combination of the existing models would speed up the progress. The result will be reported in different conference and journal publications targeting academics.

Scale deposition is one of the major problems in oil production in upstream section and therefore an important factor of influence on ETP theme of ‘Oil & Gas’. It is essential in flow assurance to have a holistic simulator that can foretell the formation of scales in a given condition.


Dr Faisal A. Ghani, Heat Energy, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts - Development of a TRNSYS model of the Sunamp latent heat battery

Sunamp limited is a local manufacturer of latent heat storage products using a patented phase change material. This technology can be coupled with a number of renewable energy type heat sources such as a photovoltaic or a solar thermal collector systems providing a low carbon thermal energy solution for both domestic and commercial

Due to the highly variable nature of these renewable heat sources, computer simulations are heavily relied upon for system design, optimisation, and economic analysis. In this project, an experimentally validated model of the Sunamp heat battery is to be developed using the TRNSYS software package at the University of Lucerne. TRNSYS software has been selected for this project as it currently possesses an extensive database of photovoltaic, solar thermal, and heat pump components which are relevant to the Sunamp business. Furthermore, it possesses the required meteorological data and is computationally efficient such that annual simulations may be performed. Once a detailed model has been developed, Sunamp will then have a valuable tool which can used to create a number of templates of various systems comprising of different heat sources to approximate the performance and yield of their systems operating under different climates. This will be a heavily used as both an engineering and marketing tool by Sunamp Ltd.


Mr Declan Bryans, Energy Conversion and Storage, Laboratory of Physical and Analytical Electrochemistry - Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (LEPA-EPFL) - The chemistry and performance evaluation of a ZnBr2 redox flow battery

The ETP project at the University of Strathclyde has as one of its main goals the installation of a 25 kW/50 kWh zinc-bromine redox flow battery (RFB) system into a Scottish Local Community, fully integrated with the community’s renewable power source(s). This energy storage system, produced by Lotte Chemical Corporation (Daejeon, South Korea), has been undergoing performance testing and evaluation at the University of Strathclyde’s Power Networks and Demonstration Centre (PNDC) in Cumbernauld, Scotland.

The main aim of the project is to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the operation the battery for community installation. The dual-circuit system at Laboratory of Physical and Analytical electrochemistry- École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (LEPA-EPFL) in Martigny, Switzerland combines a conventional redox flow battery (RFB) with two catalytic reactors in separate external circuits and offers an exceptional opportunity to gain relevant knowledge to assist in our goal. Additionally, this will create and strengthen relationships between LEPA-EPFL and the University of Strathclyde and will promote future collaborations in energy management systems.

This project will thus assist in overcoming barriers to grid capacity, linking local energy demand with local energy generation and so deliver renewable electricity to local consumers. While this project will directly benefit the community in which it is deployed, the acceptance and enthusiasm for the new technology will have a far broader impact. Project success will encourage other communities, regardless of size or location to adopt this model, recognising the inherent scalability of this renewable energy storage system to suit the community’s requirements. This project meets all of ETP’s four main areas: builds capacity by deepening existing relationships with Lotte Chemical encouraging further investment and development in Scotland; builds relationships as the project will involve two academic institutions, an international industrial partner and the local community; creates economic impact by generating developmental opportunities within Scotland’s energy sector and local communities. All of these contribute to the internationalisation by providing evidence of the scale and expertise of the work carried out potentially leading to new outreach and knowledge exchange opportunities. As such, the work will strengthen relationships and collaboration with Lotte Chemical creating further opportunities with this South Korean company.

A key outcome from the planned visit will be familiarisation with the commercial vanadium RFB at LEPA-EPFL and an understanding of the balancing of operation between electrochemical storage and hydrogen generation in the dual circuit flow system.


Mr Gylen Odling, Solar Energy, IISER Pune, Solar Water Purification by Semiconductor Photocatalysis

The availability of clean drinking water is a key factor in providing long-term health security. Contaminated water can arise from agriculture, manufacturing and domestic sources, in both cities and rural areas. The challenges are common across many developing countries, with solutions in one context potentially applicable across others.

The focus of this work is water contamination in rural India, an area that is typically severely affected by poor water quality. This area is very much “off-grid” and lacks access to effective methods of water purification. Stand-alone solar photocatalytic units are low maintenance solutions to this problem, and are ideally suited to improve the quality of drinking water sources in these areas. For this purpose, TiO2 is the most commonly used photocatalytic material, which has gained much interest due to its low cost and low toxicity; however, its wide band gap restricts its use to the ultraviolet portion of the solar spectrum (~5%). Hence, to be truly effective under solar irradiation, it must be sensitised to the visible region. The proposed work aims to apply visible sensitisation methods developed in our laboratory to larger scale TiO2 systems, and in doing so tackle real world contaminated water sources in India.


Mr David Campos-Gaona, Wind Energy, University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Experimental Demonstration of a Wind Turbine Multifuntional Converter for Power Quality improvements in Electrical Networks.

The versatility of the power electronics embedded in modern wind turbines enables the use of the wind energy unit as a power quality enhancement system by functioning as an active power filter and/or as a power conditioner under unbalanced scenarios. This feature is very desirable for the operation of power systems, and where the penetration of wind energy systems is high (such as the UK network). Notwithstanding, the deployment of a multifunctional wind power unit requires the use of more complex and robust control techniques to operate the system with an acceptable performance, as well as enhanced hardware and real-time digital control systems.

This research proposal seeks to experimentally validate the use of a Multifuntional Converter (i.e. a power electronic converter able to work as an active power filter/power conditioner) for Wind Turbines to improve the power quality of the electrical grid. The controller of the multifunctional wind power unit is to be based in a novel control technique developed by the proponent researcher, and intends to use the expertize in hardware and embedded software design of the research group at the Alpha Laboratory in Power Electronics of the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada to develop a prototype and the digital controllers needed to validate the proposed system.

The goals of this proposal are 1) to enable the collaboration of University of Strathclyde Wind Energy and Control Centre and the Power Electronic group at UBC by a creating a joint research effort a high profile common goal 2) A functional prototype that validates the performance of the proposed system 3) A high level publication (Journal type) 4) Become a launch platform for a large-scale collaboration of University of Strathclyde and UBC under the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) program, which is currently being prepared between our workgroup and other international organizations.


Sofia Koukoura, Wind Energy, NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), Failure and Remaining Useful Life Prediction of Wind Turbine Gearboxes

Operation and maintenance activities constitute one of the main drivers of the cost of energy for wind power. Therefore, improvement of wind turbine reliability and availability is vital in order to make wind power more competitive. One of the most expensive components of wind turbines is the gearbox. With that motivation, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) organised the Gearbox Reliability Collaborative Consortium which collects and processes a wide range of experimental data regarding gearbox availability and reliability.

The Gearbox Condition Monitoring Round Robin project launched by NREL evaluated different vibration analysis algorithms used in wind turbine condition monitoring. According to the results obtained, there is room for research to improve vibration analysis techniques and to adopt them in commercial condition monitoring systems. One of the most challenging diagnostic tasks of the project was a fault in the planetary stage bearing. It is well established that planet bearings are considered a critical component with a high failure rate. The Round Robin study has been one of the main motivations of my PhD research that aims to create a novel tool for predicting failure and remaining useful life of wind turbine drivetrains by combining appropriate signal processing and artificial intelligence techniques.

For all aforementioned reasons, this research exchange with NREL will have two main objectives: identify trends in vibration data regarding the gearbox planetary stage bearing failures using data provided from a leading wind turbine manufacturer; and to apply failure and remaining useful life prediction techniques -developed as part of my doctoral project- to NREL Round Robin data. Results will be compared and discussed with participants of the Round Robin study. The deliverables of this exchange will lead to improvements in methods currently used in wind turbine bearing vibration analysis, enhance training prognostic algorithms and demonstrate those in a variety of gearbox case studies.


 Erika Palfi, Bio Energy, University of Saskatchewan, Cyclic adsorption / desorption rotary wheel configuration model

This student has studied the engineering aspects of SEGR in natural gas combined cycles and focuses on possible technologies suitable for SEGR. Therefore, she has developed a large scale rotating wheel model using solid adsorbents as CO2 transfer medium. A first conceptual design assessment with commercially available adsorbent showed, although promising, that a significant step change in adsorbent technology is necessary to design realizable rotary adsorption wheel systems for SEGR.

In this context, she will investigate the performance of novel activated carbon materials, obtained via fast pyrolysis of white wood followed by activation process, under a range of operating conditions possible in NGCC plants with SEGR, provided by the carbon capture group of the University of Edinburgh. She will also have the possibility to observe how these adsorbents are generated, so that she gains a better understanding how adsorbent properties change through pyrolysis and activation conditions.

This will allow her to obtain important experimental data to verify and validate her cyclic adsorption / desorption rotary wheel configuration model for her PhD work and promote future collaboration between the Universities of Saskatchewan and Edinburgh.


Mr. Roberto Emanuele Rizzo, Oil and Gas / Heat Energy, Volcanic Basin Petroleum Research (VBPR), Oslo - Quantifying the effect of fracture networks on the transport properties of volcanic rocks

Fracture networks are known to play a fundamental role in controlling the mechanical (e.g., strength) and transport (e.g., fluids, heat) properties of rocks. Quantitative characterisation of fracture patterns is a necessary step before attempting to build useful and accurate mechanical and flow models. Quantitative analysis of fracture patterns is needed to obtain the statistical distribution of attributes (e.g. length, intensity and density) through scaling laws, particularly when we aim to reproduce fracture network in up-scaled predictive models. In this context, the recent release of FracPaQ, an open-source MATLABTM toolbox, widens the possibility for objectively and consistently quantifying fracture patterns and their variations.

Specifically, in this exchange project our focus is on fracture networks in volcanic rocks. Although volcanic rocks are well-known as potential reservoirs for water, geothermal sources and hydrocarbons, considerable uncertainties exist regarding the impact of fracture networks on their mechanical and transport (i.e. permeability) properties. Moreover, heterogeneous sequences are a common feature of volcanic systems, resulting in a highly variable distribution of fracture attributes across volcanic facies.

Our project, through a combination of outcrop images and borehole televiewer images, aims to quantify natural fracture networks in volcanic systems, by applying FracPaQ, which includes estimates for individual fracture attributes (e.g., lengths, orientations) and their patterns (e.g., connectivity, permeability). This quantitative information will provide effective parameters required for regional-scale flow models and to determine the uncertainties associated with up-scaled fracture networks. This will benefit agencies involved in managing fluids in oil and gas, geothermal energy and water.