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Renewable Energy Technologies and Materials

With global energy demand set to double by 2050, there is an urgent need for efficient and renewable energy technologies. This group’s research interests are focused on the development and improvements needed to provide low carbon and renewable energy for electricity, heating and air conditioning. Researchers work collaboratively to develop innovative solutions for sustainable energy and transport systems. Research spans across several areas. These include:  

Blue and red logo for Renewable Energy Northeast Universities

Photovoltaics and Photocatalytic Materials 

Our innovations and leadership in energy materials have been enhanced through EPSRC core funding designed to advance research in photovoltaics through our role on national programmes and consortia such as NECEM (North East Centre for Energy Materials), PVTEAM (Photovoltaic Technology based on Earth Abundant Materials) and recently SolPV (Solution-Processed Inorganic Thin-Film Photovoltaic Devices). We lead Northumbria’s first EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT in ReNU), which offers a pioneering training programme encompassing small-scale renewable and sustainable distributed energy, and we co-deliver the first international renewable energy postgraduate training programme in China (see Impact page).

Phase Change Materials and Thermal Energy Storage and Systems  

With the increase of renewable energy production, research efforts have intensified for reliable energy storage solutions. This research investigates storage options for solar energy that can be used for domestic heating. This group’s work focuses on phase change materials – substances that release and absorb sufficient energy when changing states to provide useful heat and cooling. The group has developed new phase change materials for domestic heating via organic Rankine cycle turbines using accumulated solar energy.  

Expertise in concentrated solar thermal plant and storage for combined heat and power systems has led to the development of a prototype currently being tested in Spain. The aim of this technology is to develop an innovative high-performance and cost-effective solar heat and power system for use in individual dwellings and small business residential buildings for on-site electricity and heat generation using solar thermal energy. 

The group leads multiple Erasmus+ programmes in renewable energy upskilling for undergraduate and postgraduate students from Latin America, in PhD upskilling in clean thermal power systems and engineering skills enhancement in South East Asia with 23 individual institution partners in Europe, America and Asia.

Power and Control Systems

Researchers in this group have developed sector-leading models and solutions for the transition to net zero carbon emissions including how to best integrate renewable energy, electric transport and electricity grids; develop smart chargers for electric vehicles; and develop optimal controllers for sustainable energy management to achieve efficient and stable operation of future micro grids.  

Key projects 

Solution-processed inorganic Thin-Film photovoltaic devices (SolPV)

This project combines solution-processing approaches with cutting-edge manufacturing tools to achieve accurate control of the semiconductor junction composition and produce manufacture-ready solar absorbers

Photovoltaic Technology based on Earth Abundant Materials – PVTEAM

CZTSSe Solar Cells from Nanoparticle Inks 

Ultralight Absorber for Remote Energy Source (U-AREs)

The above projects investigate the use of kesterite solar absorber as alternative thin film material to typical photovoltaic technology.  

Photovoltaic Paint

This project is assessing the feasibility of applying photovoltaic paint directly to product surfaces during the manufacturing process, in order to generate clean electricity without emitting carbon.  

Graphene Aerogel for Super Lightweight High-Performance Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells

This project is investigating the use of super light-weight hydrogen fuel cell technology so that the use of fuel cells, for example in automobiles, can be extended to wider applications such as drones and unmanned flying vehicles.  

Enhancing Thermal Properties of PCM Using Nano Materials

This project performed analyses on phase change materials for use as an energy storage technology, in particular heat storage. Different parameters were assessed in order to optimise the technology and cost-effectiveness for use in manufacturing.  

High Performance Seasonal Solar Energy Latent Heat Thermal Storage Using Low Grade, Low Melting Temperature Metallic Alloys

The aim of this project was to develop a novel, cost effective and high-performance energy storage system so that seasonal accumulation of solar energy can be stored in higher quantities. 

SEEV4-City EU Interreg Project

This project aims to advance green city developments through a combination of electric vehicles, renewable energy sources and computing solutions.


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