The growing demands on fossil fuels and their impact on the environment make it increasingly important to investigate the use of renewable energy in transport.
There is already some transport powered by renewable energy on the market, but this requires significant development to make it economically viable and efficient enough to be adopted more widely. The key to effectively using renewable energy in transport lies in the development of hydrogen, electric and solar power sources, and the storage of this energy.
Electrical power and power electronics
Our projects with industry have included:
- Testing a fuel additive that reduces emissions
- Modelling material properties for higher-efficiency power plants
- Increasing the storage and energy production in thermoelectric generators
The Industrial Electrical and Electronic Engineering Research Group in our Department of Engineering is actively engaged in research into power electronic systems, novel electrical machines and drives.
There is a blend of interests and skills amongst the academic and research staff, providing a rare multidisciplinary strength to the Group that includes expertise in very high voltage and current, novel magnetic design and power systems.
The research aims to make significant contributions to the understanding and development of power electronics, machines and derived systems. Work ranges from fundamental research to industrial consultancy.
A wide range of facilities and equipment is available for industrial research, including:
- Motor/generator sets of various power ratings
- DC and AC variable speed drives and inverters
- Ballard fuel cell
- Battery test cell (including multiple charge/discharge unit)
- Instrumented diesel generator set
- Ultra-capacitor bank
- Programmable power supplies and load banks
- DC and AC machines (cage and slip-ring induction, PM and wound-field synchronous)
- Power analysers
Centre for Advanced Electronically Controlled Machines and Drives
The Centre is developing a new type of electric motor that is energy efficient, electronically controlled and cheap to manufacture, which is essentially a permanent magnet-based brushless DC motor with few electronic components. The new motors are attracting growing commercial interest worldwide.
This research is of particular significance to aerospace, where high power densities at high speeds are essential. This is a new field and is also of considerable interest for military applications.
The research is also looking at development of a complete fuel cell based electric vehicle drive system using a Nexa fuel cell, ultra-capacitors for energy storage, and an energy efficient permanent magnet brushless DC motor.
We have had considerable success in developing a new ultra-fast battery charging technique using pulsed power electronics to enable lead-acid batteries to be rapidly charged without overcharging, excessive gassing, or overheating.
For more information, please contact director of the Centre, Dr Paul Lefley.
Our expertise in measuring the trace composition (VOC/OVOC) of complex mixtures of gases in real-time is being deployed through a new regional demonstrator project, RAFT (Real-time air fingerprinting technology).
RAFT will encourage industry to adopt the technology and generate joint IP to better exploit commercial opportunities.
For more information please contact Professor Paul Monks.
Another way we are driving developments in transport is by investigating how to increase the sustainability credentials of the materials used to construct vehicles. Our chemistry experts research green chemistry and materials, including the use of coatings.
Our work in this area is of particular interest to manufacturers of vehicle and components looking to increase the efficiency of vehicles whilst maintaining the economic viability of their products.
We work with clients of all sizes and have a range of schemes offering funded support to small businesses in our region.
At Leicester we have a dedicated team of inorganic, organic and physical chemists working together to develop the field of green chemistry.
They are mainly active in developing novel solvent systems (ionic liquids) with industrial applications such as electropolishing, metal oxide deposition and electroplating, and have built strong partnerships with industry.
Another area of transport sustainability we are working on is combustion, which enables the most efficient use of fossil fuels and renewable energy whilst reducing the harmful effects of high-temperature processes on air quality and the climate. These processes are also found throughout other industries such as materials processing, manufacturing and electricity generation.
Research projects in the field of combustion conducted by the Thermofluids Research Group in the Department of Engineering fall into two general categories:
Internal combustion engines:
- Evaluating a cleaning method for the Diesel Particulate Filter
- Fuel system cleaning fluid for HDi Diesel car and van engines
- Co-fuelling of a Diesel engine
- Commissioning and testing of a Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) fuel system
Fundamental aspects of combustion:
- Ultraclean and flameless combustion
- Thermoacoustic oscillations in applications involving the use of premixed flames
- Aerodynamic influences on flame structure and on heat transfer from flames