Drax works with Sheffield Uni to ‘revolutionise’ UK’s energy future

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Drax Group is working with the University of Sheffield on research which, it said, could help to revolutionise the UK’s energy future.

The company, which owns the country’s largest power station, near Selby in North Yorkshire, is sponsoring three PhD projects at the university.

Having transformed half of its coal fired power station to sustainable biomass, Drax is also developing four rapid response gas power stations.

Dorothy Thompson, Drax Group CEO, said: “The energy sector is changing beyond recognition in the UK and modern companies like Drax are transforming with it.

“The work with the University of Sheffield will help us to deliver on our aim of changing the way energy is generated, supplied and used for a better future.”

The projects Drax is working on with the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Storage and its Applications are aimed at increasing understanding of developing technologies, to enable Drax to support the UK’s energy system in the future.

The PhDs will focus on topics including: use of flow batteries for grid support; customer interaction with vehicle to grid systems using smart technology, and cleaning of exhaust streams for small power generators.

The research on flow batteries will look at grid scale storage and the possible use of flow batteries versus other storage technology.

Flow batteries have the potential to offer longer life, are faster to charge and deliver high storage capacities compared to other technologies.

The project on vehicle to grid systems is focused on the impact of human behaviour on smart energy technologies. This will be an integral part of the future systems required to enable electric cars to store excess power from the grid – like a fleet of small batteries, and then release the power again when needed.

The exhaust cleaning research will look at ways of using exhaust scrubbing technology in combination with small diesel or rapid response gas, to reduce the environmental impact of these essential assets, as they plug the gaps at times of system stress – such as when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.

The research work will be carried out by PhD students at the University of Sheffield over three years from October.