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STFC announces 4 new projects aimed at solving energy challenges

STFC is pleased to announce the awarding of up to £1.5M of funding to 4 exciting multi-disciplinary projects under the Challenge Led Applied System Programme (CLASP) to meet specific challenges in the energy sector. These projects plan to produce tangible results in a 3-5 year period and bring STFC researchers together with other academic disciplines and industry through new collaborations to solve real energy challenges.

CLASP project calls

STFC runs an annual Challenge Led Applied Systems Programme (CLASP) call for proposals with each call focusing on a grand challenge area where new technology emerging from STFC’s research base can be applied through collaborative work with other researchers and industry to meet challenges aligned to the Futures programme; Energy, Environment, Healthcare and Security.

The successful projects for the 2013 Energy Call are:

  • Dr H Hunter (STFC Labs)
    Grant Title: Ammonia Reactor for Cracking (ARC)

    • Project Summary 
      By 2050 the UK is legally obliged under the Climate Change Act to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80%, from 1990 baseline levels. Among a number of potential options one promising route is the implementation of the hydrogen economy in which hydrogen (H2) is produced by the electrolysis of water using low carbon energy sources and then, using a fuel cell or through combustion, converted to water and energy. H2 is therefore one of the primary energy vectors that offers a serious alternative to fossil fuels. Target markets include transportation, renewable energy generation/back-up and remote power supply sectors.

      Two major challenges prevent the widespread implementation of the hydrogen economy: The lack of a cheap and effective method of H2 storage and the absence of sufficient infrastructure for its production and transportation. A viable solution to both these challenges lies in the use of ammonia as a clean and secure H2-containing energy vector.

      This project will create a first demonstrator system for a new hydrogen production method, aimed at eventual use in fuel.

  • Dr D Jenkins (York)
    Grant Title: New generation nuclear detectors for use in well logging

    • Project Summary 
      Well logging is a key tool for oil and gas exploration, where the composition and structure of strata are probed by introducing instruments down a borehole. Radiation detection is important to this type of approach but is challenging as it must perform highly in an environment with strongly elevated temperatures. The project will evaluate the potential for silicon carbide-based APDs as a platform for such radiation detectors when coupled to appropriate scintillator crystals.

  • Dr M Riede (Oxford), Dr R Dalgliesh (STFC Labs) & Dr C Nicklin (Diamond Light Source) 
    Grant Title: Structure-Property Relationships: Enabling a faster Commercialisation of Organic Solar Cells

    • Project Summary 
      Organic electronics (OE), including organic solar cells (OSCs), is a prime example of an interdisciplinary research field. Chemists, physicists, material scientists and engineers are working together in theory and experiment to better understand the intriguing properties of organic semiconductors and come up with novel applications. Common for all OE is that the chemical structure and the processing of organic semiconductors have significant consequences on the thin film microstructure which in turn has significant influence on the device properties.

      This is where the focus of this project is. It will lead to advances in the understanding of the structure-property relationships of organic semiconductors, an interdisciplinary field that has become more and more important in recent years. This project will strengthen the complete value chain of OE in the UK in all disciplines from the development of new organic molecules to the optimisation of OSC and other devices.Based on the project's results, chemists will get a better understanding on how organic semiconductors pack in thin organic films that are the basis of all current organic electronic devices.

      This will enable them to derive selection criteria to choose from the nearly unlimited choices and focus on the development and optimisation of the most promising molecules for particular purpose. Material scientists, physicists and device engineers will learn from our data how particular processing conditions affect the film formation of organic semiconductors thus providing them the tools to faster optimise the process to obtain the desired microstructure and optimised performance of the device.

      This project also includes high-level scientific training of one PDRA in processing of OSCs and OE and the microstructural analysis. Additionally, this project will add critical mass to vacuum processing for OE in the UK, complementing the existing excellent and interdisciplinary research on solution processed OE. Researching both solution- and vacuum-based technologies is paramount for the UK to be able to capitalise on its expertise in OE in the future, because it is far from certain which approach -vacuum or solution - will dominate the field of OE in the years to come, or whether a combination of both.

  • Dr D Weidmann(STFC Labs) & Dr D Jones (NERC BGS) 
    Grant Title: Large area two dimensional mapping of carbon dioxide fluxes for assessment and control of carbon capture and storage projects

    • Project Summary 
      As part of the development of carbon storage and sequestration (CSS) facilities towards a viable business, site characterization and validation is required. Any field CCS facility needs to implement monitoring, verification, and accounting activities in order to verify storage permanence. In addition, technologies and associated protocols are needed to quantify potential releases, to study the pathways of these as well as their anticipated impacts. Research has modelled the effects of CO2 leakage and found that leakage rates below 0.5% per year are required to keep CCS economically and environmentally viable.

      The hereby proposed project is to develop a novel technology called Chirped Laser Dispersion Spectroscopy (CLaDS) to address some challenges of the CCS monitoring problem. It specifically focuses on the near surface atmospheric component of a monitoring system to account for CO2 surface fluxes. This unique and novel technology has the potential to enable large area gas fluxes mapping at unprecedented precision, though the combination of open-path monitoring with tomographic techniques.

      The project focuses on developing a field prototype that will be deployed for a realistic CO2 flux mapping campaign towards the end of the activity. This demonstration will exhibit the benefit of this new technology and facilitate barrier.

A new CLASP Healthcare call for 2014 with a £1.5M fund has been announced. An Information & Networking day was held on 20th May at the Royal College of Physicians to allow potential applicants to find out more about the focus of the call and to meet possible new collaborators. 

Details can be found at STFC Clasp Healthcare 2014.


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