Staffordshire engineers pioneer new renewable energy system

“It's a big change - there is no other product like this in the energy market. There are challenges but we believe we can overcome them.”

Dr Hamidreza Gohari Darabkhani, Associate Professor of Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Systems

Engineers at Staffordshire University are developing a unique new system which could generate clean, affordable energy for countries across the globe.

Dr Hamidreza Gohari Darabkhani, Associate Professor of Low Carbon & Renewable Energy Systems, specialises in micro turbine technology and has previously designed home-based power systems which generate both heating and electricity.

“Centralised power generation in power plants produces a lot of carbon pollution and a large amount of the energy is lost through transmission.” he explained.

“Autonomous systems, which can be used at home, improve efficiency by roughly 20% compared to centralised power grids. These kinds of mini generators also reduce emissions of carbon dioxide.”

The Micro Turbine Renewable Energy Combustor (MiTREC) project will build on this research and adapt the technology to use renewable biofuel gaseous fuels instead of fossil fuels. The novel work undertaken by the project will be the development of a biogas-fuelled micro-combustor and Staffordshire University is responsible for the design of this micro-combustor.

UK company Bladon Jets is pioneering micro turbine technology and the project consortium will develop a new biogas-fuelled system based on existing Bladon Jets' 12kW recuperated micro-turbine generator architecture.

To date, no such micro-scale system has been demonstrated due to the challenges of micro-scale heat-to-power systems using these fuels.

“The Paris Agreement endorses the use of biofuels to reduce greenhouse emissions and create a carbon free future. If successful, our system could easily be used by countries rich in biofuel.” said Dr Gohari Darabkhani.

“It's a big change - there is no other product like this in the energy market. There are challenges but we believe we can overcome them.”

The team has identified micro-turbine biogas power generation as the ideal technology to provide decentralised clean, affordable and resilient energy in developing countries such as Sub-Saharan African and south-Asian countries, as well as in the UK and internationally.

“There are customers for this in places like the South Sahara in Africa where they bury old agriculture waste and then extract the gas to burn as fuel for cooking.” Dr Gohari Darabkhani explained.

“Some of these communities are off grid and have difficulty accessing power but with our system they could use the same gas or even household waste to generate their own electricity.”

The MiTREC project has been funded a total budget of £1.2m by Innovate UK and principal investigator Dr Gohari Darabkhani has successfully secured a total of £192,206 income for Staffordshire University's role within the project.

Research, Innovation and Impact Services have worked closely with Dr Gohari Darabkhani to provide bidding support and to ensure the intellectual property is secured for future exploitation. Consortium partners include Bladon Jets Ltd, Staffordshire University and Cranfield University. QTE (Ugandan power Distribution Company) will also act as an external contractor and supplier.

If you would like more information regarding the project please contact Dr Hamidreza Gohari Darabkhani on 01782 292769 or at h.g.darabkhani@staffs.ac.uk.

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