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In the past decade, global energy consumption has increased tenfold increasing the worldwide demand for renewablealternatives to solve a range of energy consumption challenges - from energy storage,energy conversion and photovoltaics (solar harnessing devices).

Energy engineering is a multidisciplinary field contributing to the improvement of sustainable energytechnology and processes to address these challenges, as well as workingtowards meeting net zero targets by 2050, both domestic and commercial.

The London Centre for Energy Engineering (LCEE) at London South Bank University (LSBU) is a pioneer in the solar field, carrying out and connecting innovative energy engineering research across LSBU’s existing divisions, centres and facilities.  

This collaboration brings together 13 academic staff, 11 post-doctoral research assistants (PDRA) and 31 PhD students across LSBU’s School of Engineering (SoE).

Energy engineering principles  

LCEE has explored a range of specialisms, including material design, which make use of modern computational chemical and physical methods to understand materials at an atomic level.  

For example, it is possible to predict the electronic and optical properties of an active layer in a device by analysing its molecular structure, physical properties, and chemical behaviour. These results have informed their collaborators and has led to:

  • Investigations of novel computational methods for next generation exascale computing
  • Developments in sustainable computation and synthetic techniques
  • Photocatalysts, functional thin film coatings, energy harvesting, and storage devices carried out by the modelling team’s close work with experimentalists
  • Microelectronics, which uses an in-house supercomputer and the national high performance computing resources

These successful developments within material design are crucial to improving next-generation energy devices, one of four LCEE key specialisms across energy storage and conversion.

LCEE has carried out extensive work in both Energy Storage – through Cryogenic and Electrochemical Energy applications – and Energy conversion, with applications in Photovoltaics and Renewable Fuel Production and Heating and Cooling.

Energy storage

  • Cryogenic Energy Storage (CES), which balances the supply and demand in power generation by using low-temperature liquids as an energy storage and transfer conduit, this means energy can be stored during low periods of demand ready for use when demand is high
  • Electrochemical Energy Storage (EES), to develop innovative electrochemical devices such as lithium or sodium-ion batteries, fuel cells and supercapacitors

Energy conversion

  • Photovoltaic (PV), cells which convert light, natural and artificial, into electrical energy through the photovoltaic process enabled by semiconductors
  • Renewable Fuel Production via photocatalysis, a chemical process that harnesses freely available clean solar energy, to split water or reduce carbon dioxide into more valuable compounds

These processes have positioned LCEE as experts in this field and produced successful applications for academia, SMEs, and individuals such as:

  • Development of solar cells and LEDs using perovskite, organic and inorganic-based materials
  • Understanding of the physics of materials and devices, with the aim to improve performance
  • Pyroelectric or multiferroic/magnetoelectric materials to generate hydrogen from transient low-grade waste heat (<100°C) or in the presence of magnetic fields
  • Providing on-demand bespoke tailoring of electrode materials (theoretical and experimental) to produce advancements in their applications.

Going beyond energy conservation and storage, LCEE has conducted exploration into heating and cooling across the refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump industry (RACHP).  

As a study, heating and cooling navigates how to best provide thermal comfort and temperature control in buildings, industrial facilities and other environments, undertaking the transfer or removal of heat to achieve the desired temperature situations.  

Over the last 10 years, LCEE have secured and delivered 60+ small to large-scale projects in partnership with local and international organisations, and are currently working on a multi-partner £8 million H2020 project to develop CES at cold storage warehouses.  

LCEE’s global impact at a glance

LCEE has recently collaborated on a £5.2million Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) project - from which LSBU received £1.2 million - and a €7 million EU research grant to develop their ground-breaking energy storage technology.

These research themes have helped to bolster LCEE’s missions:

  • Become a recognised organisation internationally and in the UK, leading innovative and multidisciplinary research in energy challenges
  • Bring together a cohesive team of researchers and groups across SoE with an appropriate critical mass to highlight its potential within and outside the UK
  • Lead training provider for capacity-building in energy research, aligning with the UK focus for inspiring the next generation of researchers, including PhD cohorts and MSc programmes
  • Become university partner of choice, collaborating with industry and other organisations globally pursuing energy research
  • Take the lead on influencing energy policy and strategy within UK government bodies

Within the last five years, LCEE has published 300 papers across 41 countries with collaborators in Australia, India, USA, Switzerland, and Singapore for example.

Since late 2017, they have supported 32 PhD student completions, hosted two post-doctoral fellowships for Newton International and MSCA, and have delivered projects worth £34 million.  

LCEE’s current project portfolio totals £42 million and team members have published in highly respected energy and environmental science journals, offering access to a range of high-end analytical facilities for material and device characterisation.  

So, what is next for LCEE?

LCEE has contributed to a range of South Bank Innovation (SBI) projects across our Sustainable Innovation programme, including a recent study into reducing refrigerant greenhouse gas emission leakage in the refrigerant industry. The team is always interested innew collaborations and opportunities from industry professionals and academiaand very much welcomes informal discussions.

Explore how the team can support you connecting with Dr Suela Kellici, Head of LCEE, today.

Tomi Machado
Communications and Engagement Officer
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